Who protects your money? You do, of course. But your personal finances also got help in the past five years from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). It has protected all of us from missteps and worse by big financial institutions like J.P. Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citi, credit reporting companies and other pillars of our economy. It also went after less well-known financial predators including payday lenders, debt collectors and college loan servicing companies.
That’s why, whether you voted for Donald Trump and whether you’re a Republican or Democrat, you should worry that Trump installed Mick Mulvaney to lead the bureau that protects consumers.
Mulvaney, Trump’s budget director, called the CFPB a “joke…in a sick, sad way,” in a 2014 video interview with the Credit Union Times. The bureau came about as part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reforms after the economy nearly collapsed because of bad banking practices in 2008.
Now, in case you haven’t followed what the CFPB has done — and who follows everything? — here’s a quick reminder of a few of its standout actions.
The CFPB fined Wells Fargo $185 million for opening phony accounts for customers who didn’t know they were paying for extra services. The CFPB refunded more than $100 million to Wells Fargo customers. And the CFPB has gone after Wells Fargo to successfully retrieve money for other violations.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has fined Chase repeatedly. In one instance, 2.1 million consumers received refunds from a CFPB imposed fine of $309 million because customers were charged for so-called credit monitoring that they didn’t receive. In another instance, Chase had to refund at least $50 million to consumers and pay a fine of $136 million to the CFPB and 47 state governments for illegally assigning credit card debt to debt collectors when customers didn’t owe money. These are just two examples of cases involving Chase.
In 2016, thanks to the CFPB, Citi refunded $5 million to individual consumers because Citibank sold credit card debt to debt collectors and inflated the interest rates. In another case, CitiMortgage and CitiFinancial Services paid a $28.8 million settlement because of mortgage loan servicing practices.
The CFPB went to bat for students who took out loans to attend for-profit colleges and received worthless or questionable education. It sued Corinthian Colleges for predatory lending
In total, companies have paid $11.9 billion to consumers because of illegal practices and 29 million consumers have benefited. The CFPB motto is clear: “We protect consumers from unfair, deceptive, or abusive practices and take action against companies that break the law.”
So if any of this is important to you, call your senators and congresspeople. Call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121and ask for them. You can find your U.S. Representative here.
And your U.S. Senators here.