America’s Consumer Watchdog is at Risk

About the above picture: President Barack Obama announces the nomination of Richard Cordray as the first director of the CFPB on July 18, 2011. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (left) and Richard Cordray (right)

Opinion by Ray Miller, Treasurer, Charlotte County DEC

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was established during President Obama’s Administration and championed by Senator Warren of Massachusetts. It has returned almost $12-billion to individuals who have lost their hard-earned money as a result of questionable or unethical business practices. But it had never affected me, personally, until last week when I received a check for $20.21 as a settlement undertaken by the Bureau. I was one of many visitors who had gone online to one of the three major credit reporting agencies to get a copy of my “free” annual credit report.

What I actually unknowingly received was a monthly subscription to their reporting service billed to my credit card. That charge only became apparent when I checked my statement.  At the time I chalked it up to deceptive marketing practice and considered it the cost of not being more vigilant. (If you can’t trust the credit reporting agency, is there any business worthy of your trust?)  So when I received a check from the CFPB in settlement of a loss I had long ago I was quite surprised and gratified, and can personally attest to the fact that the Bureau is working on behalf of the American consumer.

However, the Bureau and the good work it does on behalf of the American consumer may not survive the determination of the Trump Administration and the Republican Party to destroy it.  Recently, the departing head of the CFPB was replaced by Mick Mulvaney, President Trump’s Budget Manager.  The Bureau receives a quarterly allocation of budget funds based upon a request of the Department Head.  Mr. Mulvaney requested $0.  He elected to use the Bureau’s reserve funds. In all likelihood, he will continue to do so, until all reserves are drawn down and the Bureau is left without funding.  This is a wake-up call to all consumers to prevent this from happening!