Consumer Financial Protection in the COVID-19 Crisis: An Emergency Agenda

10 Pages Posted: 7 Apr 2020 Last revised: 19 May 2020

See all articles by Richard Cordray

Richard Cordray


Diane E. Thompson

Consumer Rights Regulatory Engagement and Advocacy Project; National Consumer Law Center

Christopher Lewis Peterson

University of Utah - S.J. Quinney College of Law

Date Written: April 6, 2020


The coronavirus pandemic is creating overwhelming needs, in three waves. First is the health crisis; second is the macroeconomic crisis created by the abrupt halt in much business activity; and now third is a consumer crisis, as households are faced with total or partial job loss, sharp income decline, and potential loss of health care. Millions of Americans are falling behind on their bills, including major obligations like mortgages, rent, car payments, and other forms of household debt. At the same time, they face a financial industry itself struggling to respond to the compounding crises and widespread confusion as to what the new rules of the road are as financial institutions, states, localities, and the federal government scramble to respond. The result is fertile ground for consumer scams. The authors call upon the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to recognize and respond to this new consumer crisis, providing an action plan of more than a dozen practical steps that the CFPB can and must take immediately to prevent widespread consumer harm. The action plan starts with the most basic and essential step of collecting and disseminating timely and accurate information for both consumers and policymakers. The CFPB must address pressing consumer risks in four primary areas: foreclosure prevention, non-mortgage debt forbearance, oversight of debt collectors, and supervision of credit reporting companies. In each of these primary areas, and on all the issues discussed in this paper, the CFPB must use all of its authorities to ensure that crucial relief is delivered to distressed consumers.

Keywords: COVID-19, Coronavirus, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, CFPB, foreclosure, eviction, mortgage, credit report, Fair Credit Reporting Act, FCRA, Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, FDCPA, supervision, bank, unemployment, pandemic, consumer, consumer protection, credit

JEL Classification: K12, K23, K35, K42, M48, M38, G01, G18, G2, G20, G21, G23, G28

Suggested Citation

Cordray, Richard and Thompson, Diane E. and Peterson, Christopher Lewis, Consumer Financial Protection in the COVID-19 Crisis: An Emergency Agenda (April 6, 2020). University of Utah College of Law Research Paper No. 370, Available at SSRN: or

Richard Cordray

Independent ( email )

Diane E. Thompson

Consumer Rights Regulatory Engagement and Advocacy Project ( email )

7913 Sligo Creek Parkway
Takoma Park, MD 20912
6189603266 (Phone)
20912 (Fax)


National Consumer Law Center ( email )

77 Summer Street
Boston, MA 02110
United States

Christopher Lewis Peterson (Contact Author)

University of Utah - S.J. Quinney College of Law ( email )

383 S. University Street
Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0730
United States
801-581-6655 (Phone)
801581-6897 (Fax)


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