Former Equifax CEO Richard Smith sat in front of a Senate committee on Wednesday trying to explain how his old company leaked the personal information of 143 million Americans, why top executives sold $1.8 million worth of shares before the security breach was made public, and why the company had consumers sign away their rights to participate in class actions suits.
It probably wasn’t his best day.
To add insult to injury, although he might not have been aware of it at the time, he was also being mercilessly trolled by someone dressed as the Monopoly mascot the entire time.
Amanda Werner, arbitration campaign manager for two consumer advocacy groups (Americans for Financial Reform, and Public Citizen) chose to dress as the iconic Rich Uncle Pennybags to bring public attention to the issue of forced arbitration or—as they call it—a “Get Out of Jail Free Cards” for companies like Equifax and Wells Fargo.
Forced (or mandatory) arbitration comes as a clause often hidden deep in the fine print of contracts you sign with financial institutions like banks and credit card companies that waive your rights to join in class action lawsuits against those institutions and instead force you to go through arbitration outside of the court system.
After the stunt went viral, Public Citizen posted a short video of Werner explaining forced arbitration and how it affects consumers.
Werner spoke with Daily Dot over the phone and said the photobombing incident was part of a larger action that started on Tuesday.
“We went to all the Senate offices and delivered ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ cards with Equifax and Wells Fargo’s logos on them,” Werner said, “to call attention to a Republican effort to repeal the CFCB [Consumer Financial Protection Bureau] arbitration rule.”
That rule, according to the CFCB’s website, was created to “deter wrongdoing by restoring consumers’ right to join together to pursue justice and relief through group lawsuits.” And although it’s only been in effect since July of this year, Werner says it’s already in trouble, with Republicans attempting to repeal it.
“Republicans actually pushed a vote on the repeal last week,” Werner said, “They tried to marshal enough votes to do that and I think the reason they did that is they wanted to sneak it through right before the Equifax and Wells Fargo hearings.”
That effort, in part due to efforts by groups like Americans for Financial Reform and Public Citizen, was unsuccessful, but Werner says they are currently on “high alert” for another such try and that we might not have seen the last of Rich Uncle Pennybags.
“If I hear that Republicans are going to bring a vote I will absolutely revive the Monopoly Man,” said Werner.