This month, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced the new Borrower Protection Program that streamlines consumer protection oversight of mortgage servicers through new data and information sharing between the program sponsors as they respond to the coronavirus pandemic. The CFPB will provide complaint information and analytical tools to FHFA; in return, FHFA will share data on forbearances, modifications and other loss mitigation initiatives undertaken by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the Enterprises).
The complaint data collected by the CFPB is a valuable resource that NCRC has talked about in the past. Despite the best efforts of the industry to reduce public access to this data, it provides a great snapshot of the pain and concerns of Americans as they engage with financial companies of all kinds.
FHFA is wise to use the complaint database now that so many Americans are in danger of falling victim to predatory lenders, landlords and scammers. The ability of every consumer to file a complaint and get a response is one of the biggest achievements of the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010 and has helped consumers recover billions of dollars since its inception.
The CFPB has a number of resources that can be helpful during the current crisis. The CFPB has also released timely information on new programs aimed at helping struggling consumers during this time. These programs include student loan payment suspension, mortgage forbearance, stimulus payments and the paycheck protection program. Additionally, the bureau has a centralized webpage with information on how consumers can protect their finances during the pandemic.
The pandemic and the economic fallout that we are beginning to see is the biggest threat to our economic security in the last century. Fortunately, we are far better prepared for this than we were just ten years ago. The CFPB is a central part of that bulwark, and the resources they offer are critical tools for all consumers.
Jason Richardson is NCRC’s Director of Research & Evaluation.
Maxim Applegate is a communications and development intern for NCRC.