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Do not weaken CFPB consumer watchdog

A bill in Congress would seriously undermine the agency's ability to help Americans

Published: February 2014

After a financial crisis sparked by shady mortgage lenders and Wall Street abuses, the federal government created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. At Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, we think this federal watchdog is doing a good job of protecting people from fraud and deception in the financial marketplace.

Since opening its doors in 2011, the CFPB has gone after companies that cheated their customers, leading to a reported $3 billion in relief for 10 million affected consumers. The bureau has also raised the standards for mortgages, established federal oversight of payday lenders and debt collectors, and handled hundreds of thousands of consumer complaints.

Yet there are still some who fear this watchdog. Last year, powerful financial interests in Washington tried to stop Congress from approving a CFPB director. We joined with other groups to push back and end the stalemate, and we won. But now a new battle is brewing.

A bill in the U.S. House of Representatives—H.R. 3193—would neuter the CFPB, seriously undermining the bureau’s ability to help consumers in a host of ways.

The bill would:

  • Weaken the CFPB’s independence by making it easier for other regulators to overturn its rules.
  • Attempt to restructure the bureau, which would delay rule makings and enforcement actions already in progress.
  • Change the rules for funding the CFPB, which would open the door for industry groups to lobby to deny funds for the bureau whenever it took an action that lobbyists oppose.

We think this bill would handcuff the CFPB, and that’s why we’re urging the House to reject it. You can help. Do you have a personal story about being ripped off or treated unfairly by a bank, credit-card company, lender, or another financial service?

Tell us your story, and help us send a message to Congress to keep the CFPB on the beat to look out for consumers.

This feature is part of a regular series by Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy arm of Consumer Reports. The nonprofit organization advocates for product safety, financial reform, safer food, health reform, and other consumer issues in Washington, D.C., the states, and in the marketplace.

Read other installments of our Policy & Action feature.

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