This week, March 3rd – 9th, is the fifteenth annual National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW). Yes, it is an important time to spread awareness of common scams and problems that consumers encounter. But more importantly, it is an opportunity for us to reflect on what exactly “consumer protection” means. The White House issued a Presidential… Continue Reading
Strength in numbers. A single consumer’s voice will not likely force a company into righting a wrong or living up to a warranty obligation. But the collective power of many voices can, and does, have an effect. Last Friday, the New York Times’ Dealbook published an article entitled “Consumer Complaints May Offer Insight Into Pyramid… Continue Reading
College students are not a group that immediately comes to mind when we think of “vulnerable” populations but once you start looking at their circumstances it becomes clear: college students need help. Financial control is likely new to most students, it might even be the first time many students pay a bill on their own…. Continue Reading
Last week, the CFPB issued “one of our most important rules to date, the Ability-to-Repay rule.” While the rule itself is a good step forward for consumers, what I found most interesting is the analysis of a financial market that was “reckless about lending money.” The CFPB has always taken a very practical approach that… Continue Reading
Last week the CFPB announced the release of the first annual CFPB Ombudsman’s report. The report details the CFPB Ombudsman’s progress throughout the year and what the office hopes to achieve in 2013. Its nice to see some good news for consumers, these days its few and far in between when I see a change… Continue Reading
There are many great things that can be said about Senator Warren’s victory: she is the first woman to be elected U.S. Senator from Massachusetts; she symbolizes the American dream (her father was a janitor and she worked as a waitress); and for Democrats, her victory eliminated the possibility of a Republican controlled Senate. But… Continue Reading
It’s been a tough couple of years for consumers. They are increasingly relied upon to fuel the economy in the United States and around the world (stock prices tumble from Tokyo to London to Wall Street when American consumers even hint at lowered confidence and spending). But they are seeing their own legal rights being… Continue Reading
I am starting to see a trend… and for once it’s a good one. First, we saw Capital One forced to repay customers after using deceptive sales techniques. Last week, Discover was fined for deceptive telemarketing. This time, the culprit is American Express, whose offense is — surprise, surprise — more deceptive sales tactics (not… Continue Reading
Last week, the CFPB held the inaugural meeting of its consumer advisory board in St. Louis, Missouri. Director Richard Cordray began the meeting with prepared remarks stressing the CFPB’s public focus. He reminded us that the CFPB’s close relationship with consumers is what makes it work, citing the CFPB’s consumer complaint submission form and hundreds… Continue Reading
On Monday, the CFPB announced another enforcement action – this time against Discover. The charges are similar to those the CFPB brought against Capital One Bank a couple months ago. But this time the CFPB cooperated with the FDIC in bringing this action – it was a “joint public enforcement action.” The enforcement action faulted… Continue Reading
Yesterday, Richard Cordray, Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”), appeared before the House Committee on Financial Services to summarize and respond to questions on the CFPB’s semi-annual report, released on July 30th and available here. Cordray took a calm and measured approach to presenting the CFPB’s work thus far. He highlighted the substantive… Continue Reading
Moderate and respected Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Mark Warner (D-VA), and Susan Collins (R-ME) issued a press release on August 1st describing their proposed bill S. 3468, the “Independent Agency Regulatory Analysis Act of 2012.” For all intents and purposes the bill seeks to take the “independence” out of “Independent Regulatory Agencies”. That’s right. Who… Continue Reading
The CFPB is back at it. The agency released a report that examines the consumer complaints they’ve received about mortgage companies. The report, which evaluates the more than 23,000 complaints submitted in the last six months, reveals that the largest number of complaints are about—surprise, surprise!—difficulties encountered by consumers who are unable to make a… Continue Reading
Who would have expected to see Sandy Weill, Citigroup’s former CEO, say that big banks are bad? He who built the biggest bank in the US at the time, Citicorp. It’s like Henry Ford coming out against the Model T, Bill Gates telling us software is unhealthy and Thomas Jefferson proclaiming “Democracy” is over rated. … Continue Reading
Until today my praise for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has been in response to their “softer” programs. I thought their solicitation of complaints and comments from the public was promising, their making that data available to the public useful (especially their interactive database on credit card complaints that revealed-surprise surprise-Capital One to be the… Continue Reading
Last week I wrote about the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s online complaint submission procedure and the implications it has when you consider that, these days, “knowledge is power.” This time I’m going to focus on a similar, parallel method of gathering information the CFPB has now used twice: soliciting comments from the public. Notice and… Continue Reading
If knowledge is power, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) could be on track to be very, very powerful. The CFPB began accepting online consumer complaints about credit card companies in July of 2011. Then, in December of 2011, it added mortgage complaints. This past March, it expanded its complaint process to include those about… Continue Reading
Today is a rare day. Like my basement dwelling Chicago Cubs, consumers might be able get a “win” on the books. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced a “major step forward in our work to protect consumers.” For the first time, the CFPB will allow full access to its individual-level consumer complaint database. And… Continue Reading
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was at the heart of the Dodd-Frank reforms. It was not too long ago that if you whispered the initials “C” “F” “P” “B” to leaders of banks and other financial institutions they would turn ashen-faced and fall into a cold sweat. They bemoaned what they called the “unlimited” power… Continue Reading
Far from the sky falling and democracy being destroyed, whistleblowers are adding value to a critical area of government enforcement and I predict over time their role will continue to grow and become an ingrained component of the SEC’s mission.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has launched a new tool called Ask CFPB to help answer financial questions consumers might have. Right now more than 350 entries are available on topics like credit cards and mortgages. As this tool takes off, the Bureau hopes to expand the list of topics to cover student loans, auto loans, checking and savings accounts. You want it, they have it.
The total amount of student loan debt totals nearly a trillion dollars… In this milieu of despair, the Department of Education is ramping up collection efforts. But sadly and I think incorrectly, they have teamed up with private debt collectors who earn up to a 16% commission for collecting student loan repayments.
Valuable to many and a safety net to millions more, predatory loans are around to stay. But good news: Our new friends at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau–for the first time–will be taking a good hard look at what is legalized “loan sharking” and put a national enforcement strategy together for policing these practices.
Could there be a clearer rallying cry for regulation of Wall Street bonuses? Heck, John Dillinger only robbed banks of a few hundred thousand dollars over the course of his “career,” and they created the FBI to catch him.