Biden’s CFPB wants to know how consumers would reform banking and lending rules

Rohit Chopra, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

David Ryder/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Biden administration is trying to empower consumers to help rewrite the rules governing how banks, lenders and other financial institutions can treat customers.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — a federal agency created in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis — said Wednesday it would let the public submit a rule-making petition directly to the agency.

The Dodd-Frank Act, signed into law in July 2010, established the watchdog to protect consumers from unfair, abusive, and deceptive financial practices — a response to risky lending that pushed the United States into a deep recession.

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The office controls banking, mortgages, student loans, debt collection, credit cards, credit reports, and payday loans, among other areas. This broad consumer oversight had previously not been the primary focus of any federal agency.

Now, the public can ask the bureau to pursue a new financial rule, or to amend or repeal an existing rule.

The petitions will help officials identify consumer protection issues that need reform or additional clarification, the office said. They also aim to limit the power of lobbyists, who are “paid to influence the agency’s regulatory agenda behind the scenes”, he added.

“Americans should be able to easily exercise their constitutional rights without hiring an expensive lawyer or lobbyist,” said CFPB Director Rohit Chopra, who was nominated by President Joe Biden and confirmed by the Senate in September. “Our new program will broaden access to the agency’s rule-making process.”

Petitions will be publicly posted and made available for additional comments from other members of the public.

The agency asks petitioners to include “factual and legal reasons for the proposed action”, as well as the “expected effects” it will have on affected parties such as consumers, industry and enforcement authorities. law enforcement – tasks that can be difficult for some consumers.

Prior to the change, the public had been able to influence the agency’s decision-making process by submitting public comments on the rules the agency had proposed or participating in certain roundtables. They could also file complaints about financial products and services. (All of these channels remain available.)

Consumer advocates had expected the Consumer Affairs Office to be more aggressive during Biden’s tenure compared to his predecessor, President Donald Trump. Chopra, the new bureau chief, previously oversaw student loans at the agency under President Barack Obama.

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