by Barbara Nevins Taylor
Sometimes you have to stand up for the people who stand up for you and this seems like one of those times. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) needs our help. The Obama administration created the bureau after the 2008 financial collapse and gave it the mission of making sure that financial institutions including banks, lenders, credit reporting bureaus and debt collectors treat consumers fairly.
Sounds like a no-brainer, a good thing especially since it investigated big banks like Wells Fargo, which made up fake accounts for consumers and charged them for it. As a result of that investigation, Wells Fargo paid more than $185 million dollars in fines and penalties.
When Chase sold consumer debt that had already been paid and then used illegal robo-signing to make it seem as consumers owed, the CFPB investigated and fined the bank more than $215 million in 2015. It also ordered Chase to refund more than $309 million for illegal credit card practices in 2013.
The bureau also rewrote mortgage lending rules so that banks won’t lend to people who can’t afford to pay their loans. That was a key problem that led to the financial crisis.
It also got the major credit reporting bureaus to become slightly more responsive when people dispute errors on the reports. The situation still is not perfect. And credit reporting agencies remain the most complained-about companies on the CFPB list.
The bureau also continues to go after unscrupulous debt collectors, credit repair companies, auto title lenders, pawnbrokers and credit unions that defraud consumers.
The bureau plans a new rule governing payday lending and launched an investigation into pension advance schemes that catapult many deeper into debt.
Since its creation the bureau has retrieved $11.7 billion in refunds for consumers and fines against companies that cheated them. Twenty-seven million consumers benefited directly. The CFPB also listened to more than one million consumer complaints and responded trying to help.
So what’s bad here? Very little for consumers, but members of Congress think differently. The same people we elect to make laws to protect Americans, at least the current crop, favor fewer regulations that protect consumers.
What’s At Stake
Right now the bureau is led by a director appointed by the President. But Republicans in Congress think a commission should guide it and that would dilute its power.
The director of the CFPB, Richard Cordray, may run for governor of Ohio and he’ll probably step down. But his replacement could have a significant impact and guide the agency to help consumers in the same way that he has.
So if you care about protecting consumers, why not let your Congressperson, or Senator know that the bureau matters? You can find your Congressperson here: http://www.house.gov/htbin/findrep
You can find your Senator here: http://www.senate.gov/senators/contact/
Submit a complaint to the CFPB
If you want to submit a complaint to the CFPB, you can do that here: http://www.consumerfinance.gov/complaint/.