The Monopoly Man, a.k.a. Rich Uncle Pennybags, crashed the hearing of former Equifax CEO Richard Smith on Wednesday.
Wearing a top hat, monocle, and white twirl-able mustache, the character was sitting in some prime real estate, and seen over Smith’s shoulder during the whole hearing.
The woman behind the character, Amanda Werner of the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen, also wiped her brow with what appeared to be $100 bills.
The hearing was the second of four congressional hearings this week in which U.S. lawmakers demanded to know how a major security breach happened and what the company was doing to make things right for consumers.
Hackers stole Social Security numbers, birth dates and addresses, and in some instances driver’s licence numbers of about 143-million Americans and about 8,000 Canadians, which became publicly known last month.
“I dressed up as the Monopoly Man to bring attention to Equifax and Wells-Fargo use of forced arbitration as a get-out-of-jail free card for their misdeeds,” Werner told TYT Politics.
She said the “get-out-jail-free card” is the forced arbitration clause, which is buried in the legalese of a contract and normally wouldn’t allow for the customer to participate in a class action lawsuit.
“Make no mistake: Arbitration is a rigged game, one that the bank nearly always wins,” Werner said in a release.
“Shockingly, the average consumer forced to arbitrate with Wells Fargo was ordered to pay the bank nearly $11,000.
After outrage on social media after the news of the hack broke, Equifax waived the clause for its credit monitoring software, first by saying consumers could opt out if they chose, but eventually, officials took the clause out of the contract entirely. The credit monitoring software was offered to customers whose data might be compromised.
But Werner says the company along with others like Wells-Fargo use the clause regularly. She dressed up to bring attention to a bill in the Senate which would lower restrictions on the clauses.
Currently, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has a rule allowing class actions despite these clauses.
“But now, the U.S. Senate leadership is pushing to strike down the rule using the Congressional Review Act,” a release from Public Citizen reads.
Earlier in the week, Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan strongly defended Wells Fargo’s practice of forced arbitration practices. Wells Fargo was at a congressional hearing to try to explain how employees trying to meet ambitious sales goals created millions of accounts without customers knowing about or authorizing them.
Asked by Sen. Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat, if Wells Fargo would consider ending that practice, Sloan responded with a curt “no.”
Werner said she hoped people who saw her in the hearing would take up the cause and call their senator to vote against it.
She also reportedly handed large get-out-of-jail-free cards to those on trial.
*With files from the Associated Press