by Jeff Sovern
My latest op-ed. Excerpt:
It seems unlikely that the bureau would take on a bank like Wells Fargo for [opening unauthorized accounts] or pursue many of Cordray’s other actions now that Mulvaney is in charge. His boss has even praised a bill passed by the House that would strip the CFPB of the authority to go after banks for doing what Wells Fargo did, while Mulvaney himself has co-sponsored legislation aimed at killing the bureau.
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In January, Mulvaney told his staff that the bureau’s actions should be guided by how many complaints it receives on a particular matter.
By that measure, the CFPB wouldn’t have gone after Wells Fargo because few consumers seem to have complained to the bureau about the unauthorized Wells accounts. That may be because consumers often don’t bother to complain when they have suffered only a small loss. And yet collectively the Wells customers had much at stake, as demonstrated by the fact that Wells has agreed to settle the case for $142 million, a number that may yet grow.
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For the next five months – or until the Senate confirms a permanent director – the CFPB is led by someone who once called it a “sad, sick” joke.
What is sad and sick, in my view, is that an agency established to protect consumers may be more eager to protect predatory lenders than consumers. And that is no joke.