Senators urge consumer protection agency not to ‘abandon’ duty to protect troops, families

Senators urge consumer protection agency not to ‘abandon’ duty to protect troops, families

By:  Karen Jowers
Military Times

In the wake of reports that a key federal consumer protection agency is considering pulling back from efforts to protect service members from predatory lenders, 49 senators have signed a letter asking for a commitment that the bureau will continue to ensure troops are protected.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau “should not be abandoning its duty to protect our service members and their families" the senators wrote in a Wednesday letter to Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget, and acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The lawmakers — all 48 Senate Democrats and independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders — asked for a commitment that the CFPB will use "all of the authorities available to the CFPB to ensure that service members and their families continue to receive all of their [Military Lending Act] protections.”

Rather than actively examining lenders’ records to determine whether they are following the law under the Military Lending Act, several sources say the CFPB instead would rely on complaints from service members and their families to trigger potential investigations. CFPB officials reportedly have expressed a concern that they don’t have the authority to conduct these lender examinations, although they have been doing so for years.

According to the CFPB, their enforcement actions have resulted in about $130 million that has been provided in relief to service members, veterans and their families.

The possible change was first reported in the New York Times. The move wouldn’t change the law itself, only the enforcement techniques. In the past, some lenders have expressed concern to Military Times about what they perceived as aggressive and unfair practices by the CFPB.

CFPB officials declined to specify the actions they are considering, whether they have already taken action, or how any changes could affect service members and their families.

“Under new leadership, the Bureau has engaged in a comprehensive review of its activities and is assessing whether those activities align with its statutory authority,” CFPB spokesman John Czwartacki said in a statement provided to Military Times. “[Military Lending Act] is one authority, among many, that the Bureau has examined.”

Read the full story here.