Four years ago, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau opened its doors and began the hard work of standing up for consumers against discriminatory lending practices, predatory lending, and other abusive behaviors. As the agency celebrates its birthday, Director Richard Cordray recognizes, it has a lot more work to do.
In 2010, Congress passed the Dodd-Frank Act in response to the financial crisis that had gripped the country. The law created a new government agency – the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – to combat the bad practices of the American banking industry. It was a monumental task.
Four Years of Consumer Protection
Four years in, the CFPB has made significant headway. The agency has called big banks to the task, resulting in huge settlements for the American people. It has cracked down on pay-day lending and online loan offers. And it is regulating credit card fees and interest rates.
To better define the task, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau also collects, screens, and responds to thousands of consumer complaints. In its four year history, the agency has responded to 163,000 debt collection complaints – representing over 1/3 of all the reports. According to CFPB blogger Ashley Gordon:
“Listening to and elevating your voice matters to us because we are a federal agency devoted to protecting consumers. When you speak up, you offer invaluable insight into the financial products and services consumers depend on. Telling us about your experiences helps us to better serve you and make the financial marketplace work for Americans”
More Work to Do
Four years isn’t nearly enough time to address all the unethical and even abusive tactics banks and credit card companies use when trying to collect debts. CFPB Director Richard Cordray told the Associated Press:
“I wish we could be doing more, faster. In the early days, we were given a lot of tasks by Congress to fix the mortgage market and we have worked hard on that. We are now turning to some other important issues, like practices by financial companies that mislead consumers, debt collection and credit reporting. We worry about discrimination in the financial industry, which still exists, even though we all wish that it didn’t, and debt traps like payday loans.”
He admits the agency is still scrambling to catch up and prevent abuses that it could have kept from ever happening, had it been created 20 years earlier.