CFPB — a boring name that strikes fear in the hearts of predators

CFPB — a boring name that strikes fear in the hearts of predators July 24, 2012

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is just getting started. It’s an unassuming little office with a blandly bureaucratic-sounding name. And it’s led by Richard Cordray, an unassuming, unthreatening-looking fellow who lacks the TV-hair of a politician.

But the CFPB, created by the post-financial crisis Dodd-Frank law, actually has a shot at doing what it’s name says: protecting consumers. That’s a pretty big agenda because there are an awful lot of people, predators and practices that consumers need protection from.

The Washington Monthly’s John Gravois has a good backgrounder on the agency and the fighting spirit it’s bringing to its daunting task. The CFPB, Gravois says, is “Too Important to Fail.”

Here’s a bit of what the CFPB has been up to recently:

Mary Beth Quirk: “Large Credit Reporting Companies Will Now Be Under the CFPB’s Watchful Eye

The 30 largest credit reporting companies are about to have a brand new babysitter on the case — the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says it will be begin to supervise those companies starting this fall. Together, they account for 94 percent of the market’s annual receipts.

There are some familiar names included under the CFPB’s federal oversight umbrella, including the top dogs: Experian Information Solutions Inc., Equifax Inc. and TransUnion. Together, those companies issue more than 3 billion consumer credit report cards each year and have the goods on more than 200 million Americans in their files, reports the Los Angeles Times.

“Credit reporting is at the heart of our lending systems and enables many of us to get credit, afford a home or get an education,” said bureau Director Richard Cordray. “Supervising this market will help ensure that it works properly for consumers, lenders and the wider economy. There is much at stake in making sure it is both fair and effective.”

Charlie Pierce: “The CFPB’s First Head on the Wall

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau hung its first big trophy head on the wall. I am open to arguments that say that a $140 million refund is boutonniere money for most of these folks, but it’s a considerable number for the rest of us. …

The CFPB says it found that Capital One’s call center vendors pressured or misled consumers into paying for such services as payment protection and credit monitoring when they activated their cards. Consumers weren’t told these add-ons were optional, the CFPB says. And, the agency says, sometimes consumers were automatically enrolled in these programs without their approval and then had trouble canceling the services after being billed for them.

This is exactly what Elizabeth Warren calls the “tricks and traps” inherent in every mortgage and in the fine print of every credit-card statement. In its own sleazy way, because the economy has forced so many Americans to buy on credit, this is naked profiteering. It was stealing the pencils out of a blind man’s cup. Capitol One, of course, is terrible sorry.

See also: “It’s Working Already: CFPB Gets $140 Million in Rebates for Capital One Customers


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