News Column

New Report Indicates Consumer Interest, Federal Agencies Moved Consumer Protections Forward

July 18, 2014



DURHAM, N.C., July 18 -- The Center for Responsible Lending issued the following news release:

2013 was a milestone year for consumer protections, according to a new report by the Center for Responsible Lending. Agency action, advocacy, and public interest around consumer finance all played a critical role in enhancing and expanding legal consumer protections.

The report, released on the anniversary of the landmark Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, summarizes the year in financial regulation - paying particular attention to the impact of government agencies and consumer advocates on key consumer issues, including:

* Payday lending

* Student lending

* Auto lending

* Credit reporting

* Prepaid and credit cards

* Debt collection, buying, and settlement

"What's been interesting to observe is the influence of public interest in financial regulations," said Sarah Wolff, researcher at CRL and the primary author of the report. "We saw changes at the state, federal, agency, and even lender levels - and conclude that public support for increased consumer protections has led to significant reforms."

The report summarizes activities around key consumer issues at the state, federal, industry, and agency levels - noting which activities improved consumer protections and which activities threatened them. It also highlights key lawsuits and developments - including the Ally Bank auto lending settlement, the virtual elimination of bank payday lending, multi-agency actions on regulating student loans, and state Attorneys General activities on predatory financial products.

"In this year's report, we note the leadership of the CFPB in pushing forward financial regulations," said Debbie Goldstein, executive vice president of CRL. "While many of the federal agencies showed a keen interest in advancing consumer protections, the CFPB was notable in their activity: collecting and disclosing data, commissioning and publishing reports, and engaging in real legal actions against lending abuses."

"What this report ultimately shows us is that we are making important advances in consumer protection, but more work is needed," said Mike Calhoun, president of CRL. "A birds-eye view of the data in the report shows a decidedly mixed picture - the increasingly sophistication and complexity of financial products continues to outpace our ability to evaluate them and there are many efforts to undermine the financial security of consumers around the country. While 2013 marked a year of many stronger consumer protections, there are still many more challenges on the road ahead."

The report will be made available on Monday, July 21 - the anniversary of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. For an advance copy, please contact Catherine An at mailto:catherine.an@responsiblelending.org.

This project was done with support from the Ford Foundation and would not have been possible without the collaboration of AFR and its members.

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