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New Report: As Senate confirms Kraninger to head CFPB, state and local authorities can fill the void to protect consumers
WASHINGTON — Over the past year, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the federal agency designed to protect consumers, has strayed from its mission. With that backdrop, U.S. PIRG Education Fund is releasing a new report highlighting how state and local governments are filling the void to defend consumers from unfair financial practices. The report also makes recommendations for other initiatives to protect consumers.
Ever since President Trump installed Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney as the acting director of the CFPB 13 months ago, the agency has at best stalled on protecting consumers, and, at times, actively promoted corporate interests over those of consumers. Kathy Kraninger, the nominee to become the permanent CFPB director, was confirmed by the Senate this afternoon and is expected to continue the void in protections at the Consumer Bureau.
“Kathy Kraninger has no consumer protection or financial regulation experience. We expect her to simply follow Mick Mulvaney’s playbook,” said Ethan Lutz, U.S. PIRG’s consumer fellow. “While the CFPB’s current leadership has abandoned its mission, we’re grateful that several states are taking action to make sure companies don’t take advantage of consumers.”
The report, Positioned to Protect: How State and Local Authorities Can Fill the CFPB Void, highlights the following:
Several states, notably New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, have added resources to their state Attorney General Offices or have even established “mini-CFPBs,” while Maryland established its own Financial Consumer Protection Commission to provide policy recommendations to its state legislature and Attorney General.
State authorities unilaterally have protected their constituents and prosecuted acts that run afoul of federal “unfair, deceptive or abusive acts and practices (UDAP)” statutes.”
States including California, Connecticut, Illinois, and Washington, as well as the District of Columbia have enacted student loan servicer regulations and established student loan ombudsman positions.
A bipartisan coalition of attorneys general from numerous states have banded together to fill the enforcement void. Their tactics include expanding their Office of the Attorney General consumer protection divisions, writing letters urging for stronger enforcement, and implementing student loan borrower protections
The private group Cities for Financial Empowerment (CFE) has helped establish consumer financial education programs in more than 20 cities and has begun to establish city-level consumer protection enforcement in Denver, Nashville, and Salt Lake City.
“Until we get a strong CFPB back doing its only job, protecting consumers, we need to find other ways to police the financial marketplace,” said Mike Litt, consumer campaign director for U.S. PIRG. “The work of states and cities is critical and we encourage other state and local governments to study these policies and use them as a template for future action.”
U.S. PIRG (Public Interest Research Group) Education Fund is an independent, non-partisan group that works for consumers and the public interest. Through research, public education and outreach, we serve as counterweights to the influence of powerful special interests that threaten our health, safety, or well-being.
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