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BOSTON -- As the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) turns 10 years old, a new report from MASSPIRG Education Fund recaps how the agency has helped consumers over the past decade and the steps under way to refocus the CFPB on its mission after three years of retrograde decisions under the Trump Administration. The report also provides recommendations for CFPB action moving forward, especially on credit reporting.
The CFPB opened its doors on July 21, 2011, one year after President Barack Obama signed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Typically referred to as “Dodd-Frank” or “Wall Street Reform,” this law created the CFPB in the aftermath of the 2008 economic crash caused, in large part, by the financial industry’s malfeasance. The CFPB became the United States’ first federal agency dedicated to protecting consumers from financial shenanigans.
“Unscrupulous businesses drove millions of Americans down the road to financial ruin in the late 2000s. The creation of the CFPB soon afterward was a necessary -- and hard-won -- victory for consumers,” said Deirdre Cummings, Consumer Program Director, MASSPIRG Education Fund. “The CFPB has shown its value in its first 10 years of operation. Just as important, it’s shown resiliency in the face of efforts to defund and defang it and to undermine its mission during a recent period of questionable leadership.”
Successes noted in the report include the following:
● Through 2020, the CFPB’s enforcement actions have resulted in $12.9 billion in consumer relief, including money returned, principals reduced, and debts cancelled.
● The CFPB has taken nearly 300 actions against companies. In some of its most prominent responses, the CFPB held Wells Fargo accountable for creating more than two million unauthorized customer accounts, sanctioned the three major credit bureaus --Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion -- for deceiving consumers about the credit scores they sold, and sued Navient for illegally cheating student loan borrowers out of repayment rights.
● The CFPB maintains a public Consumer Complaint Database, which has published 2.2 million consumer complaints nationwide and 37,462 complaints from consumers in Massachusetts.
The CFPB has been busy since former Director Kathy Kraninger resigned at the request of President Joe Biden on Inauguration Day and was replaced by Acting Director Dave Uejio. The report lists 39 activitie announced by the CFPB under Uejio from January 20, 2021 through June 30, 2021, including 12 COVID-19 related activities, 11 enforcement actions, and four reversals or delays of actions taken under the prior administration.
President Biden has nominated FTC Commissioner Rohit Chopra to be the CFPB’s next director. Commissioner Chopra appeared before the Senate Banking Committee for his confirmation hearing in March and is awaiting a full Senate vote.
“Acting Director Uejio has done an admirable job. Now, it’s time for Rohit Chopra. He’s the right person to not only get the CFPB back on track but also to take it farther than ever before,” said Cummings.
MASSPIRG Education Fund has recommended that the CFPB take further action on credit reporting and several other products and services, including predatory lending, debt collection and overdraft fees.
“The top issue in the CFPB’s complaint database from consumers in Massachusetts is problems with credit reporting company’s investigations into existing problems with credit reports,” said Cummings. “The CFPB should use all its tools -- from rulemaking to enforcement -- to reform the credit bureaus. But that’s not all. Consumers need the CFPB to protect them from all the tricks and traps that abound in the marketplace.”
A full list of our 24 reports since 2013 about the CFPB’s consumer complaint database is available here.
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