Choosing Corporations Over Consumers: The Financial Choice Act of 2017 and the CFPB
Consumer Finance Law Quarterly Report (Forthcoming)
19 Pages Posted: 20 Nov 2017 Last revised: 5 Dec 2017
Date Written: November 16, 2017
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is the U.S. Government’s primary regulator and civil law enforcement agency governing consumer lending, payment systems, debt collection, and other consumer financial services. Created in the wake of the financial crisis, Congress tasked the agency with stopping deceptive, unfair, and abusive consumer finance. However, Congress is currently considering legislation which would significantly change the CFPB’s law enforcement authorities. This Article analyzes the proposed Financial Choice Act of 2017 which would rename the CFPB, and eliminate many of the CFPB’s law enforcement powers. If the Financial Choice Act were the law of the United States from 2012 to 2016, how would the CFPB’s enforcement track record have changed? Drawing upon pleadings, consent orders, settlement agreements, press releases, and other public documents, this Article presents an empirical study of every publicly announced CFPB enforcement case to determine what law enforcement cases and awards would have been eliminated had the bill been law. Among the study’s findings, had the Financial Choice Act had been adopted in 2012 it would have eliminated:
• Over 91 percent of consumer restitution for illegal home mortgage lending practices, amounting to $2.7 billion dollars;
• Over 94 percent of consumer restitution for illegal credit card practices amounting to $6.8 billion dollars; and
• Every single case addressing illegal practices in the “payday” and car title lending industry.
The study concludes that the Financial Choice Act of 2017 will, if enacted, seriously weaken the CFPB’s law enforcement program.
Keywords: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, CFPB, Consumer, credit, debt, predatory lending, enforcement, Dodd-Frank, financial crisis, lending, loan, regulation, Choice Act
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