Op-Ed: Stronger Steps in the Same Direction
Even before the Senate confirmation of Richard Cordray as the first director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, he and the bureau’s staff were pushing much-needed protections for ordinary Americans threatened by predatory lenders and unscrupulous debt collectors.
Over the last year, I’ve worked closely with the C.F.P.B. on several important consumer protection efforts. After my office prosecuted lenders who preyed on active-duty service members stationed at Fort Drum, we worked with C.F.P.B. to establish a national database of scammers who target the men and women serving in our armed forces.
Reforms in mortgage abuse can become regulations. Action on debt and credit can be expanded. Financial literacy can be a priority.
Now that Mr. Cordray has been confirmed, the C.F.P.B. can take even stronger steps to support efforts in New York and communities around the country.
Take the National Mortgage Settlement that held the nation’s five largest lenders accountable for a series of mortgage and foreclosure abuses. The C.F.P.B. should act quickly to ensure that the reforms adopted in the settlement become permanent regulations protecting homeowners. While the banks issued billions in cash payouts and loan modifications under the settlement, the C.F.P.B. must make sure that reforms don’t end there.
The C.F.P.B. should also take on unscrupulous debt collectors and credit reporting agencies. In New York State alone, companies that purchase debt from creditors have filed hundreds of thousands of cases against consumers, often on the slimmest of pretenses, and won default judgments based on faulty evidence. Some debt collectors use outrageous tactics to harass consumers into paying.
Too many consumers find that financial institutions won’t lend them money because of inaccurate information that taints their credit ratings. For some, no matter what they do, they can’t get the reporting companies to clean up their records. The C.F.P.B. can help average Americans battle these faceless bureaucracies.
The C.F.P.B. should also make boosting financial education and literacy among consumers a priority. Raising financial literacy can level the playing field for individuals and families in their dealings with large financial institutions and help them make more informed decisions. Smarter consumers are less likely to be taken advantage of by those who would prey upon them.
These are just a few of the issues I look forward to collaborating on with Cordray and his staff now that he has finally been confirmed.