(NNPA)—On Sept. 12, Richard Cordray, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, delivered an encouraging report to Congress. From data and information shared, the Bureau’s mission to make consumer financial markets work for American consumers, honest businesses and the economy as a whole is making significant inroads.
Since the enactment of financial reform, more than 5 million consumers have looked to the CFPB for information and assistance. As of the beginning of this month, 72,297 consumers went a step further to file consumer complaints with the CFPB; some of the complainants received monetary compensation for their troubles.
Although mortgage issues such as loan modifications, collections and foreclosures continue to be the most frequent complaints, consumers filing student loan complaints received the highest median amount of relief—$1,597. In all, 26 percent of all complaints received—better than one in four—received some amount of financial compensation, including complaints on mortgages and credit cards.
Commenting on the Bureau’s actions, CFPB Director Cordray said, “As the report shows, we have been using all of the tools at our disposal to help protect consumers across this country. We pledge to continue our work to promote a fair, transparent, and competitive consumer financial marketplace.”
Once a complaint is filed with CFPB, consumers are given the option to review and dispute all company closure reports. Even if a complaint is closed, consumers retain the option to dispute the finding for 30 days.
Not only is CFPB asking financial service providers questions, businesses are swiftly responding. As of June 30, approximately 90 percent of all complaints filed were closed. Since last December, CFPB offered companies the option to report an amount of financial relief where applicable.
Four of the most frequent complaint issues are:
•Managing loans, leases or lines of credit;
•Inaccuracies in credit card billing statements;
•Mortgage loan servicing; and
•Confusing disclosures, fees, interest and denials on either checking and/or savings accounts
In response to Director Cordray’s testimony before Congress, Sen. Tim Johnson, committee chair, said, “Director Cordray, I know you share my strong commitment to oversight and accountability. In fact, this is the 26th time since Wall Street Reform became law that a CFPB official has appeared before a committee of Congress. In addition, your agency’s outreach to consumer and industry stakeholders has been applauded across the board. In fact, the CFPB is held up as a model for other agencies, even by those in industry who fought its creation.”
Beyond processing consumer complaints, CFPB has also issued more than 100 subpoenas, solicited public input on a number of issues and created initiatives that target specific constituencies.
For example, after requesting information and comments on financial exploitation of senior citizens, CFPB received more than 1,000 replies that included consumers, business and trade organizations, elder advocates and financial institutions.
Recognizing the specialized needs of military families, CFPB has visited 27 military installations and National Guard units to discuss the financial challenges they face, such as foreclosure while on active duty and predatory lenders located near military installations.
For students and families seeking to make better-informed decisions on student loans, CFPB offers an interactive financial aid comparison. Data for this resource is provided by government statistical agencies and includes information on 7,500 schools and institutions, including vocational schools, community, state and private colleges.
CFPB’s Office of Minority and Women Inclusion has a two-fold purpose: to promote diversity in the workplace and among its contractors.
Despite these and other initiatives, efforts continue to weaken if not totally eliminate CFPB. The struggle continues to ensure that all consumers receive fair and honest financial transactions. Many would argue that it was a lack of regulation, fairness and transparency that contributed to the longest and deepest recession since the Great Depression.
(Charlene Crowell is a communications manager with the Center for Responsible Lending. She can be reached at Charlene.firstname.lastname@example.org.)