Photo Courtesy of the City Comptroller’s Office
Comptroller Stringer has railed against many Trump administration policies, including lately tax reform and consumer protections.
By Forum Staff
City Comptroller Scott Stringer last week released a report that he says outlines how the efforts of the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress to undermine the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will harm consumers across New York City — making them more vulnerable to financial abuse perpetrated by various financial institutions, including consumer banks, student loan servicers, and credit card companies.
According to Stringer, the White House recently signaled its intentions after the Justice Department declined to support the CFPB, which was established by the Dodd-Frank bill after the 2008 financial crisis as the only federal agency that serves as a watchdog for consumers purchasing financial products and services, in a case challenging the agency’s structure and independence. The Justice Department, along with congressional Republicans, Stringer said, argue that the president should be able to remove the agency’s independent director at will, a move which would potentially compromise the CFPB’s independence from partisan politics and the influence of large corporations.
“The CFPB stands up for Main Street Americans – it’s like a cop on the beat protecting consumers,” Stringer said. “Since 2008, the CFPB has helped more than 23,000 New Yorkers get a fair shake when pressing their complaints and concerns against big corporations. If challenges to the CFPB’s independence by Congress or the Trump Administration succeed, New Yorkers will be left facing unfair, abusive, and deceptive financial practices without the help of a critical advocate.”
Stringer’s analysis, “CFPB and NYC: How the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Empowers and Protects New Yorkers,” explores the more than 23,700 complaints that the CFPB has investigated on behalf of New Yorkers since December 1, 2011. Complaints were made by residents in: Brooklyn (6,774 complaints); Queens (6,493 complaints); Manhattan (6,199 complaints); Bronx (2,728 complaints); and Staten Island (1,537 complaints).
According to the comptroller, consumers can enlist the CFPB’s help in resolving issues around common financial products like mortgages, student loans, credit cards, checking accounts, or credit reports. The CFPB works directly with financial companies to resolve consumers’ concerns and records the outcome of cases in a public database of consumer complaints. Often, the CFPB is able to facilitate resolutions including monetary compensation or restitution for the consumer. Coupled with addressing consumer complaints, the agency supervises certain consumer lenders (including both traditional banks and non-banks), enforces violations of consumer finance laws, and issues new rules and regulations.
“In reversing course and opposing the CFPB, President Trump’s Justice Department is siding with large corporations who want to ignore the voices of consumers,” Stringer added. “The CFPB’s record of protecting New York consumers argues strongly for its preservation.”
According to Stringer’s report, New York consumers have sought help from CFPB on a variety of financial products. The majority of New Yorkers who need assistance from the bureau — 21.6 percent — requested help on matters relating to their mortgages. In addition, other categories with a large number of complaints include credit reporting (19.4 percent), bank accounts and services (17.4 percent), credit cards (17.3 percent), and debt collection (16.8 percent).