Executive Director, CoPIRG
Executive Director, CoPIRG
Financial Institutions Held Accountable, $12 Billion Returned to Consumers Nationwide
As the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) celebrates its 6th anniversary this week, CoPIRG staff gathered to celebrate six years of the CFPB getting results for Coloradans. Since 2011, the CFPB has handled nearly 20,000 Colorado consumer complaints on issues dealing with debt collection, mortgages, student loans, credit cards and other financial services. 97% of the Coloradan’s complaints in the CFPB’s complaint database received timely responses from companies and over 2,500 Coloradans received some kind of relief from the company so far.
“For the 6th year in a row, the CFPB is getting results for consumers across Colorado,” said Danny Katz, Director of the consumer advocacy group CoPIRG. “The CFPB is doing a great job standing up for the little guy against Wall Street banks, payday lenders, student loan companies, and debt collectors. We need Senators Bennet and Gardner to stand with the CFPB too and stop proposals to weaken the consumer watchdog.”
The CFPB is a watchdog agency set up to restore fairness and competition in the marketplace. It was part of Wall Street Reform legislation enacted in the wake of the 2008 financial collapse.
Since 2011, the CFPB has operated a consumer complaint database where it receives complaints on financial products, submits those complaints to the highlighted companies, and publicly reports the responses and actions from the companies. In an analysis of the CFPB’s monthly reports and complaint database, CoPIRG found:
- The CFPB has handled 19,574 complaints from Colorado including 1,429 servicemembers and 1,726 older consumers, two categories of consumers that the CFPB tracks in its database
- 97% have received a response from the company within 15 days
- The top five types of complaints from Coloradans are debt collection (5,414), mortgage (4,667), credit reporting (3,201), credit card (2,185) and bank account or service (1,801)
- 985 Coloradans have received some kind of financial relief from companies and 1,729 have received non-monetary relief
- Many Coloradans have submitted narratives, which provide detailed information about the financial institution’s practices that impacted them
In addition to the database, the CFPB has returned $12 billion to 29 million consumers across the country. Examples of the 180 enforcement actions they have taken include:
- On September 8 of 2016, the CFPB announced a record $100 million civil penalty plus consumer restitution against Wells Fargo, for a series of unfair and abusive sales practices by thousands of employees that included opening “secret” accounts for hundreds of thousands of existing customers, solely to meet sales goals to receive financial incentives.
- The CFPB returned more than $400 million to nearly six million consumers cheated by credit card companies including Capital One, Discover, and American Express
- In January, 2017, the CFPB sued Navient – the nation’s largest servicer of student debt – for “systematically and illegally failing borrowers at every stage of repayment.” In its lawsuit, the CFPB is seeking to obtain relief for borrowers harmed by illegal servicing failures.
- When U.S. Bank targeted servicemembers with deceptive marketing, the CFPB got servicemembers $6.5 million back.
- The CFPB is implementing a federal law that requires the credit reporting industry to remove or correct inaccurate, incomplete, or unverifiable information within 30 days of being notified.
In addition to enforcement, the CFPB promulgates new rules to protect consumers. New CFPB rules prohibit banks and mortgage companies from making loans without verifying borrowers’ ability to repay. The rules also curtail the use of teaser rates and other ploys for making mortgages appear to be less costly than they really are. The CFPB is also moving rules forward to prohibit forced arbitration clauses that deny consumers the right to have their day in court.
“The CFPB is the consumer watchdog, fighting on behalf of consumers for fair, clear, transparent and enforceable rules that protect consumers in the financial marketplace and holding companies accountable when they break these rules,” said Katz.
CoPIRG used the anniversary to launch a door-to-door campaign to protect the CFPB from attacks at the federal level. The organization will be building up political support to ensure Congress does not undermine the CFPB’s ability to do its job. The House has already passed HR10, the so-called Financial Choice Act, which repeals the CFPB’s independence and eliminates most of its tools for protecting consumers. The bill also weakens many of the Wall Street reforms enacted in 2010 to prevent another collapse of the financial system due to reckless big bank practices.
“Senators Bennet and Gardner need to stand with Colorado consumers and not with the big Wall Street companies to protect the one agency, the CFPB, whose sole mission is to look out for consumers,” said Katz.
View a video about the CFPB here: