August 03, 2020

Cortez Masto Urges Coronavirus Relief Package Negotiators to Ensure Arbitration Clauses are Not Attached to Needed Relief Payments for Americans

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) joined U.S. Senator Bob Menendez and fellow Democratic Banking and Finance Committee members in a letter to Senate Leadership urging for the next COVID-19 stimulus package to prohibit the Federal Government from attaching forced arbitration agreements to any form of benefit payments to Americans. Last March, the pre-paid debit cards IRS sent to four million Americans, loaded with CARES Act stimulus payments, also contained a little-known, anti-consumer arbitration clause tucked in its fine print.

“Americans should not be forced into signing away their rights simply to access a benefit to which they are entitled,” the Senators wrote. “Given that many consumers are not even aware that arbitration clauses are included in [Economic Impact Payment] debit cards, combined with the unprecedented nature of this pandemic and the need for financial aid, we believe it is improper for the federal government to allow its contractors to include such anti-consumer clauses.”

According to a 2015 Consumer Financial Protection Bureau report, three out of four consumers surveyed did not know if they were subject to an arbitration clause. Further, because consumers are unable to join with others harmed and costs and risks cannot be distributed, many simply cannot afford to move forward. 

A full copy of the letter can be found HERE.