Consumer financial protections are threatened in Washington
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Mark Smith, of Peachtree City, is joining over 120 other consumers and advocates from 36 states across the country on Wednesday, May 9, to urge members of Congress to oppose efforts to weaken the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Smith and advocates from Georgia Watch and Consumers Union will be meeting with Senators Johnny Isakson, David Perdue, and other state lawmakers to emphasize the importance of strong oversight of the financial industry and reasonable safeguards to protect consumers.
Smith is travelling to Washington, D.C. to participate in Consumer Lobby Day, organized by the Consumer Federation of America and co-sponsored by other groups, including Consumers Union, the advocacy division of Consumer Reports. The lobbying effort is taking place at a time when the current Acting Director of the CFPB has taken a number of steps that undermine its ability to protect consumers and lawmakers in Congress are considering bills that would weaken its effectiveness.
Smith turned to the CFPB after Wells Fargo notified him that he had missed a mortgage payment and would be charged a late fee. When Smith informed Wells Fargo that he had paid his bill on time, the bank requested proof of payment, which he provided. But Wells Fargo wouldn’t accept his documentation. It was only after Smith filed a complaint with the CFPB that the bank finally acknowledged that he had paid his mortgage on time.
“Without the CFPB, my home may have been at risk of foreclosure despite the fact that I’ve never missed a payment,” said Smith. “I’m grateful to have the CFPB in my corner working to protect consumers like me from unfair banking practices and financial wrongdoing.”
Under Acting CFPB Director Mick Mulvaney, the CFPB has pulled back on investigations and enforcement actions, including efforts to go after payday lenders charging interest rates as high as 950 percent. Mulvaney announced that he is reconsidering the CFPB’s new rules that protect consumers who take payday and auto title loans and has turned the agency’s mission on its head by emphasizing deregulation of the financial industry as a top priority. Earlier this year, Mulvaney moved the Office of Fair Lending out of the Enforcement Division, raising concerns that the CFPB will not take aggressive action against lenders who discriminate against borrowers. The Trump administration has also proposed shrinking the CFPB’s budget and putting its guaranteed funding at risk by subjecting it to the annual congressional appropriations process.
“Consumer protections are under assault in Washington at a time when working families face a variety of predatory financial practices that can do real damage to their wallets,” said Pamela Banks, senior policy counsel for Consumers Union. “We need strong safeguards to protect consumers and vigorous oversight and enforcement by the CFPB to stop financial scams and rip-offs.”
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was created by Congress following the devastating 2008 financial crisis that cost millions of Americans their homes, jobs, and retirement savings. It works to make sure banks, lenders, and other financial companies treat consumers fairly. And it’s gotten results. Since it was founded, the CFPB has returned $12 billion to nearly 30 million consumers who’ve been cheated by financial companies and stopped abusive banking, credit card, mortgage, and student loan practices.