New Data Shows CFPB Enforcement Actions Have Decreased Under Mulvaney

Inside Subprime: Dec 18, 2018

By Grace Austin 

The federal consumer finance watchdog agency has seen its reach shrink under the current administration, according to newly released data.

Under acting director Mick Mulvaney, who was appointed in November 2017, direction of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has shifted, toward one more lenient on financial institutions, with “new strategic priorities…to recognize free markets and consumer choice,” as outlined in the agency’s end-of-the-year financial report.

This year, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s enforcement actions against financial institutions have decreased. Enforcement actions reached a high in 2015, at 55 total. In 2018, there have been 10 total. It’s been part of a gradual decline since 2016. According to analysis from the Washington Post, in 2018, consumers also received less victim compensation — about $90 million less than in 2017.

There was one bright spot, though: the enforcement actions included those against predatory payday loans and title loans providers.

The CFPB only issued five final rules informed by public feedback this year, and had the lowest number of rules finalized or resolved within 9 months of receiving final public comments ever. One of those includes a “rulemaking to a rule” to create protections for consumers against payday and title loans, which the agency announced it will be revisiting in January 2019.

Other numbers in the 2018 financial report reflect a smaller agency. The agency’s workforce has decreased by about 10 percent over the past year. The CFPB had a high of 1,668 employees in 2017, and now has just over 1,500 workers.

Funding has also declined. The CFPB receives its primary funding from the Federal Reserve, which it must request. Requested funds had grown steadily since the agency’s founding. But in 2018, requested funding dipped to about 60 percent of the year before.

One of the main goals of the agency is to provide financial education to Americans. The CFPB releases papers and publications on subjects that concern consumers, such as financial scams, retirement savings and credit card debt. In 2018, there were 125 publications released by the agency, about half the amount released the year before.

Now, the agency has a new leader. Director Kathy Kraninger took office in early December. She’ll serve five years as head of the CFPB. Kraninger has little experience in consumer finance, though. She’s expected to continue the policies of Mulvaney during her tenure.

Democratic lawmakers, meanwhile, are looking at ways to ramp up consumer finance enforcement and regulation as the CFPB relaxes. Legislators are looking at such actions as bringing back the Consumer Advisory Board and investigating the actions of student loan lenders. It sets 2019 to be an interesting year for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

For more information on payday loans, scams, and cash advances and title loans, check out our state financial guides including CaliforniaIllinoisTexasFlorida and more.

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