CRL in the News
A series of developments following the Wells Fargo scandal has now led to the introduction of legislation designed to bring financial justice to the millions of consumers affected by fees and fraudulent accounts they never authorized nor opened. On Dec. 1, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio introduced a bill that would grant Wells Fargo victims their own day in court — even if they signed contracts that included arbitration for legitimately-opened accounts with the bank.
"The most effective consumer protection laws at the state level should not be undermined by bad new financial products that could open the doors for predatory lending," said Courtney Robinson, policy counsel at the Center for Responsible Lending. "A federally chartered fintech lender would avoid state interest rate caps, leaving people vulnerable to financial services abuse."
“We need a strong and independent CFPB agency and director now more than ever. If the 2008 financial crisis showed us anything, it’s that people need an independent regulator to look after the interests of consumers,” says Mike Calhoun, President of the Center for Responsible Lending. “Director Cordray has led the Bureau with a steady hand and worked tirelessly with his staff to return billions of dollars back to hardworking people across the country harmed by abusive financial practices.”
Although the CFPB is in the crosshairs, moving to effectively neutralize the agency could also backfire for the Trump regime. About nine of 10 Americans say regulating financial products is important to make sure they’re fair to consumers, according to a 2016 survey from the Center for Responsible Lending and Americans for Financial Reform.
South Dakota residents who voted for Trump also overwhelmingly voted in favor of a state measure that caps interest rates on payday loans at 36%; around three-quarters of voters backed the measure. Payday lenders in the state have been able to charge triple-digit interest rates under current law. Voters also rejected a competing measure pushed by the payday industry that would have allowed lenders to charge any interest rate they wanted.
“You’re essentially giving up your safety net,” said Ashley Harrington, counsel with the Center for Responsible Lending. It’s also wise to consider just how much money you’ll save over the long term, she said. You’ll pay a lower rate, but for a longer period of time. The standard student loan repayment plan is 10 years, while most mortgages are 30-year loans (although 15-year loans are an option).
Any GSE reform will need to prioritize access and affordability for all creditworthy borrowers, says Nikitra Bailey, executive vice president of the Center for Responsible Lending. “People of color and lower-wealth families have been successful in homeownership when they receive safe and responsible loan products,” she says. “However, they are being locked out of the marketplace.”
By attacking vacant, blighted and “zombie” properties, officials report land banks can stave off the effects of those properties on neighbors. In 2009, the Center for Responsible Lending projected that homeowners living near a foreclosed property, on average, would lose $7,200 in property value, and projected a four-year increase in losses to $20,300 per household.
Yana Miles, a policy counsel for the Center for Responsible Lending in Washington, D.C., says the nonprofit organization was disappointed with the PHH v. CFPB ruling but notes that the ruling has no impact on the CFPB. “In terms of rulemaking authority, it will continue to exist,” she says. “The court made this clear: The CFPB with a single director with funding structure will continue.”
With 44 million consumers owing about $1.4 trillion in student loans, a new report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau finds that student loan servicing and debt collection together will boost borrower costs even higher over the next two years.