Report Calls for Changes at Consumer Watchdog

Photo (cc) by garryknight

Some people think the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau needs some improvement — and no, it’s not the Republicans who tried to keep it from existing in the first place.

The nonprofit Bipartisan Policy Center released a report assessing the agency’s first two years, The Wall Street Journal says.

We summarized the agency’s accomplishments over that period this summer, including:

  • Handled more than 175,000 consumer complaints related to credit cards, mortgages, bank accounts, and student and auto loans.
  • Forced American Express, Capital One and Discover to pay consumers back a combined $425 million because of misleading sales tactics.
  • Provided consumers with form letters to help dispute debts.
  • Investigated the frequency and cost of overdraft charges imposed by banks.
  • Provided stay-at-home spouses easier access to credit.
  • Began monitoring for issues involving credit reports, including inaccurate information, the inability of consumers to get them, their misuse, and problems with identity theft protection services.
  • Began analyzing tons of data about credit products for signs of abuse.

Since then, the CFPB has also required Chase to refund $309 million for identity theft services customers hadn’t authorized or weren’t getting, and required credit bureaus and lenders to do a better job of investigating credit report errors.

“Based on a year’s worth of interviews with banks, nonbank financial firms, consumer advocates and CFPB officials, the report says officials have done a commendable job of setting up a 1,200-person agency from scratch,” the WSJ says. “But it flags problems in how the bureau does business and recommends changes.”

For instance, the report calls for formal timelines when investigating banks and other companies the agency regulates, the WSJ says. It also says there’s some concern about the level of experience investigators have, and that some guidelines the CFPB has issued without outside input are impractical to implement. Finally, it calls for some way to measure success — metrics that would give the agency more accountability.

What do you think about the job the CFPB has done so far? Let us know on Facebook.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

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