UnidosUS: Six Years After Its Creation, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Proves Critical to Curbing Predatory Practices

WASHINGTON, DC—Today marked the sixth anniversary of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) inception, the independent consumer agency created under the Obama administration as part of an effort to curb some of the predatory lending practices that led the nation to the brink of a financial meltdown. The Great Recession saw Latino median household wealth plummet by more than 60 percent, and due to an economic domino effect that included lost jobs, housing and savings, many communities are still trying to recover today.

“The CFPB has had an indelible impact on reigning in the predatory financial practices that brought on the Great Recession. During the past several years, the CFPB has had measurable impact in curbing several unfair and deceptive financial practices through its regulatory protections and ushered in an era of transparency in the lending, credit and remittance industries, benefitting all consumers,” said Eric Rodriguez, Vice President of the Office of Research, Advocacy and Legislation at UnidosUS (formerly National Council of La Raza).

“Before the CFPB, remittance users had no guarantee if the funds they sent to loved ones outside the country would be paid in full. Now we have standards in place that remittance companies must abide by. If consumers were being treated unlawfully by a financial institution, they had little recourse—today, the CFPB’s public consumer complaint database is a resource for consumers to detail their experience and allows the agency to monitor for harmful trends that may be emerging in the financial marketplace,” Rodriguez continued.

Hispanic support for the consumer agency was evident in recent polling conducted by UnidosUS that found 72 percent of Latino voters trusted an independent consumer protection agency to oversee banks and make sure the financial industry was honest with the public. That same poll found that those same voters are very skeptical of Congress’s ability, and even more so of the president, to do the same. Only 43 percent felt Congress would keep financial institutions in check, while a mere 24 percent felt the president would.

Among the CFPB’s most notable accomplishments include leading efforts to hold providers accountable for restricting access to or charging minority borrowers more for products, and returning more than $11.8 billion in relief to more than 29 million consumers.

“As we recognize the CFPB’s work to protect consumers, we are also aware of attempts by Wall Street and the White House to attack the independent agency’s ability to continue reigning in the type of careless financial practices that led to a need for its creation. Attacks against its structure would jeopardize its independence, making it subject to the appropriations process and influence in Congress by financial industry lobbyists. Last week alone, the CFPB issued a final rule that restricts forced arbitration, giving consumers a way to unite and hold corporations accountable for systemic misconduct—that rule is already under threat of congressional repeal. Consumer protection is a civil rights issue and we need to continue to fight for the right of the agency to reign in abuse and protect American families from financial predators,” concluded Rodriguez.

UnidosUS, previously known as NCLR (National Council of La Raza), is the nation’s largest Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization. Through its unique combination of expert research, advocacy, programs, and an Affiliate Network of nearly 300 community-based organizations across the United States and Puerto Rico, UnidosUS simultaneously challenges the social, economic, and political barriers at the national and local levels. For almost 50 years, UnidosUS has united communities and different groups seeking common ground through collaboration, and that share a desire to make our country stronger. For more information on UnidosUS, visit unidosus.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.