By Nancy Wilberg Ricks, Senior Policy Strategist, NCLR
The economic crisis of 2008 taught the nation that no one really had consumers' backs. To prevent another financial disaster and to make markets more consumer-friendly, legislators passed a bipartisan law that included the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). After the CFPB opened its doors in 2011, it became evident the Bureau was exactly what families needed. Consumers saw immediate improvements to their financial options and protections.
Today, the CFPB is four years old. Latino families were among the first to benefit from improved consumer protections. Wiring money abroad became easier and more transparent. Improvements were made to the remittance process through better disclosures, error resolutions, and refund processes. Many bad credit card practices were eliminated. Fees were minimized and opt-in rules were implemented so consumers were not surprised by their statements at the end of the month. Mortgage lenders were restricted from repeating practices that got us into the housing crisis. Lenders can no longer offer mortgages that borrowers can't repay, and regulation has limited high fees and abusive payment structures. Consumers finally had a better chance of watching their home investment grow with their families.
Labor Day Banner Photo 4These successes are very important for today's economy. In 2012, the buying power of Hispanics in the United States was estimated at $1 trillion, increasing to $1.5 trillion by 2015. The number of Hispanic households earning more than $50,000 a year is growing at a faster rate than the general population, meaning the success of the Latino population is essential to a thriving economy.
Despite these advances, industry players and their comrades continue to downplay the need for such change. They resisted the CFPB when it was still just a concept, and they push to dilute its strength today when its new regulations finally place checks and balances in otherwise unregulated markets. Industry members even continue to raise the specter of the CFPB inflicting unintended harm to the very consumers it aims to help. This claim is unfounded and certainly absurd when comparing the CFPB's track record to that of the powerful banks.
Today we celebrate with the CFPB. In just four years it has put consumers on the map. It has successfully pursued economic injustices and won. It has improved the landscape for families and methodically worked with better business leaders. The CFPB continues to bring consumer voices to light; just last week it launched a monthly summary report that features consumer complaints and trends of the biggest market offenders. We look forward to many more productive actions taken by the Bureau, including the forthcoming rulemaking this winter on payday loans, overdraft fees, and debt collection violations. Each is a step toward a fairer marketplace. Families can now have more confidence, knowing they will no longer need to fight alone against the financial giants of the world.
This was first posted to the NCLR Blog.