Hey lawmakers – the CFPB has done a lot of good!
Eileen St. Pierre, The Everyday Financial Planner
I’ve lost count of all the times I’ve found myself yelling at a computer or television screen about a group (from either side of the political spectrum) bashing some kind of government program/law and demanding its repeal. There are good and bad parts to most laws. Before we decide that a law is simply terrible needs to go, we need to educate ourselves on all the facets of the legislation before making the decision. Can we keep the good parts and tweak the bad?
The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 is one such law. It is a huge piece of legislation with many parts. One part created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). I’m not an expert on Dodd-Frank, but what I can tell you is that I have seen first hand the good things done by the CFPB.
Many Republicans don’t like the CFPB because it has a single director who is very difficult to fire. They wanted a 5-member commission instead because they felt it would be more accountable. Supporters of the current system say that having one decision maker makes it easier to get stuff done. Sound familiar?
Let’s put politics aside. I just want to list some of the good that I have seen the CFPB do in the 6 years it’s been around:
- To date, the CFPB has received over 1 million complaints from consumers. If you have ever felt at the end of your rope when dealing with a company over a financial issue, it is nice to have some one you can contact that actually has the power to do something. I have referred many clients to the CFPB complaint process.
- I have heard from military service members who have been personally contacted by the CFPB investigating their complaints. The CFPB has protected our nation’s finest from lenders abusing the military allotment system and using abusive debt collection practices.
- It was a complaint submitted to the CFPB that led to the discovery of Wells Fargo secretly opening unauthorized accounts.
- The CFPB is in the process of suing the largest student loan company for failing students at every stage of the repayment process.
- $11.7 billion has been returned to customers through cancelled or reduced debts and direct payments from offending companies.
- The CFPB puts fines it receives into a special fund called the Civil Penalty Fund that it uses to pay consumers if an offending company cannot pay. It also uses the fund for educational purposes.
If lawmakers can think of a better system to help consumers, I’m willing to listen. Just acknowledge that the CFPB has done some good – is that too much to ask?