The director of federal agency in charge of making sure Americans have sufficient protections and understanding when it comes to new credit recently spoke before Congress about the progress it has made in bringing clarity to consumer borrowing.
Richard Cordray, the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, recently spoke before the U.S. Senate's Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, and said that the agency has made significant progress in adding protections for consumers and bringing greater clarity to various types of lending, according to prepared testimony. In particular, Cordray was brought before the lawmakers to discuss the agency's Semi-Annual Report of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which was released in July and covers the period from January 1 to June 30, 2012.
However, the director had more up-to-date information than that to share with the Senators, especially where it concerns consumers' reporting their complaints to the agency, the testimony said. From the start of the year through September 3, the CFPB had received 72,297 pieces of feedback on credit cards, mortgages, and other types of financial products and services, and the rate at which those have been coming into the agency has picked up over the course of 2012.
Further, the agency has also brought a number of new protections to the lending industry this year, the testimony said. Many were put in place in the mortgage industry, which can lead to many problems for consumers because of how difficult it can often be to navigate. For this reason, the CFPB has proposed a number of rules designed to make the mortgage lending process clearer, including simplifying disclosure forms so that consumers can understand them better when applying for such a line of credit, and making sure there is greater transparency and accountability in the mortgage servicing industry.
Since the beginning of the year, the agency has also introduced a number of other protections, including greater regulatory control over nonbanks, the testimony said. For this reason, it can oversee companies that offer services related to mortgages, payday loans, private student lending and the like, as well as companies responsible for credit reporting, as long as they are defined as "larger participants" in the industry.
Finally, the CFPB believes that all its efforts since gaining full regulatory power will likely lead to experts having a better overall understanding of consumer credit markets, the testimony said. Through its attempts to better engage consumers, which seem to be working, the agency hopes that it will lead to better reach for its rule-making and, potentially, fiscal policy decisions.
Though the CFPB has existed since July 2011, political dissent prevented it from having a top executive until January, when Cordray, a former attorney general in Ohio, was finally appointed to the position. Since then, the agency has significantly ramped up its operations and has expanded its reach in the lending industry.