CFPB Marks Four Years of Helping Consumers in Utah, Nation
SALT LAKE CITY – The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), which celebrates its fourth anniversary this month, has recovered billions of dollars on behalf of people in Utah and around the country.
Ed Mierzwinski, senior fellow with the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), advocated for the creation of the CFPB after the Great Recession. Unlike the Federal Trade Commission and other government entities, he says, the bureau can investigate businesses before a complaint is filed.
"So, it can say to a payday lender, 'Show me that you're complying with the law,' Mierzwinski explains. "It can say that to a credit bureau or a debt collector. It's got teeth, it's got power, it's got tools to protect consumers."
He says the CFPB regulates and investigates banks, credit unions, payday lenders and pawn shops, as well as credit bureaus and debt collectors. He adds that the bureau has recovered $5 billion and received about 400,000 consumer complaints.
Complaints can be made online at consumerfinance.gov.
Consumer complaints are vital for enforcement, says Mierzwinski, because they can demonstrate a pattern or trend of businesses that may be violating the law.
"If they start to see a spike in complaints against a certain company, that will cause their examiners to go into that company and say, 'Why are we getting so many complaints about your bank? We're not getting as many complaints about this other bank that sells the same product,'" he says.
Mierzwinski notes that today's number one complaint topic is debt collectors, replacing mortgage problems as the chief complaint category. He adds the CFPB now houses the biggest government database of consumer complaints.