The New CFPB Rule is a Testament to the Power of Community Organizing

Seniors were the largest age group of payday loan borrowers in California last year but a new CFPB rule will better protect borrowers.

Dear CRC Supporter:

Yesterday, the CFPB released a new rule that will protect working families from predatory loans and the financial heartaches they create.

This rule is a victory and is a testament to the power of community organizing by CRC, our members and our allies. Borrowers will benefit from new safeguards requiring lenders to better assess their ability to repay a loan and from restrictions preventing lenders from making multiple, unsuccessful attempts to debit their bank accounts, a practice that results in costly overdrafts and closed bank accounts.

As the CFPB began its work to write this rule, CRC members and their clients courageously stepped up to share their experiences. Working with our partners, we organized listening sessions with the CFPB and with our Congressional representatives where Californians talked about how they got caught in the payday loan debt trap- a cycle of costly rollovers that are profitable for the industry, but that extract precious income and assets away from working families.

California Consumer Leadership Academy

In 2015, CRC partnered with CRL-California and California LULAC to organize the first ever California Consumer Leadership Academy.  Eight courageous women participated in this day-long training, shared their experiences, and crafted strategies on how to stop predatory lending practices in our communities.

At the CFPB’s field hearing where it announced its draft proposal of the rule, I shared the story of a Santa Cruz borrower who had worked with a CRC member after getting a payday loan and then being illegally harassed for repayment of it. We applauded the CFPB’s initial proposal, while also highlighting where we thought the safeguards could be stronger.

Once the public comment period opened, we activated consumers, CRC members and allies, and engaged with local, state, and federal elected officials to ensure the rules were as strong as possible. Consumers shared their stories in the media and we helped them to file CFPB complaints. Local mayors voiced their support. As a result of CRC and our member’s organizing efforts, the LA County Board of Supervisors passed a unanimous motion in support of strong rules. California state legislators, as well as our two senators and more than half of our congressional delegation (led by Representative Maxine Waters) weighed in with their support.

Over 100 California nonprofits also weighed in with the CFPB and our message was loud and clear: California families need a strong CFPB rule that protects their income and assets from predatory lenders.

We applaud the CFPB for its thoughtful approach to this rule and we want to extend our gratitude to our members and allies who worked tirelessly to organize and to protect our communities from predatory lending. We’re also grateful to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation for their support of this work.

We anticipate the industry will attempt to get this rule overturned- either through the courts or the Congressional Review Act, but rest assured we will continue our advocacy in support of this rule and the other work the CFPB is doing to stand up for Main Street.

My statement on the rules is now available on CRC’s website and you can read a CFPB fact sheet about the rules here.

Thank you for your support.

Paulina Gonzalez

Executive Director

100 Organizations Take Stand Against Predatory Lending in California

Is it Time to Stop Predatory Lending in California

It’s hard to believe, but in California, if you are getting a consumer loan for $2,500 or more, then there are NO LIMITS to the interest rate a lender can charge you!

High cost installment lenders are taking full advantage of this loophole and of California borrowers. In 2015, over 50% of consumer loans in the $2,500 to $4,999 range carried interest rates of more than 100% APR!

To address this problem, Assemblymember Ash Kalra introduced legislation, Assembly Bill 1109, which would cap the interest rates on these loans.  As a city council member in San Jose, Kalra had championed reforms to the payday lending market to better protect borrowers.

In a very short time, 100 organizations from around the state (listed below) submitted letters in support of AB 1109.

While Assemblymember Kalra recently decided to make AB 1109 into a two year bill, right now he is working with the chair of the Assembly Banking Committee, Matthew Dababneh, on a different bill, AB 784, that also represents a step forward in curbing predatory lending in California.

AB 784 would make a pilot program (Pilot Program for Increased Access to Responsible Small Dollar Loans) permanent. The program has for lenders who want to provide loans in the range of at least $300 but less than $2,500. However, in making the pilot permanent, the bill would now allow loans to be made under the pilot program from $300 up to $5,000. The pilot program limits interest rates, requires some level of underwriting, and offers additional consumer protections. While the rates under the pilot program exceed 36%, in recent years the pilot lenders have demonstrated the feasibility of lending at rates far below 100%.

CRC will be monitoring the progress of AB 784 closely. We are heartened to see 99 other organizations throughout California are in strong support of addressing predatory lending as indicated through their support of AB 1109. If you’re interested in learning more or getting involved, please contact Liana Molina, director of community engagement: LIANA AT calreinvest.org or (415) 864-3980.

The following 100 organizations support AB 1109:

9to5 California
9to5, National Association Of Working Women
Act For Women And Girls
Alliance Of Californians For Community Empowerment
American Association Of University Women – California
American Civil Liberties Union Of Northern California
Asian Law Alliance
Asian Pacific Planning & Policy Council
Black Women For Wellness
Board Of Missions And Social Justice Of Arlington Community Church
California Asset Building Coalition
California Association For Micro Enterprise Opportunity
California Capital Financial Development Corporation
California Child Care Resource And Referral Network
California Community Economic Development Association
California Domestic Workers Coalition
California Employment Lawyers Association
California Hunger Action Coalition
California Latinas For Reproductive Justice
California League Of United Latin American Citizens
California Partnership
California Reinvestment Coalition
California Women’s Law Center
California Work And Family Coalition
Career Ladders Project
Center For Popular Democracy
Center For Responsible Lending
Child Care Law Center
Clergy And Laity United For Economic Justice
Coalition For Humane Immigrant Rights
Community Housing Council Of Fresno
Community Housing Works
Community Legal Services Of East Palo Alto
Consumer Action
Consumer Attorneys Of California
Consumer Federation Of California
Consumers For Auto Reliability & Safety
Consumers Union
Courage Campaign
Dolores Huerta Foundation
Dreams For Change
Earn
East Bay Community Law Center
East La Community Corporation
Equal Rights Advocates
Faith In The Valley
Haven Neighborhood Services
Hunger Action Los Angeles
Jubilee East Bay
Koreatown Youth + Community Center
Legal Aid At Work
Little Tokyo Service Center
Metropolitan Area Advisory Committee
Mexican American Opportunity Foundation
Mission Economic Development Agency
Montebello Housing Development Corporation
Mujeres Unidas Y Activas
Multicultural Real Estate Alliance
Multicultural Real Estate Alliance For Urban Change
Mutual Housing California
My Path
National Baptist Convention Usa Housing And Economic Development Commission
National Council Of Jewish Women
National Council Of La Raza
Neighborhood Housing Services Of Los Angeles County
New Capital
New Economics For Women
Newman Hall-holy Spirit Parish
Northern California Community Loan Fund
Nuestra Casa
Pacoima Development Federal Credit Union
Parent Voices
Peoples’ Self Help Housing
Public Counsel
Public Law Center
Raising California Together
Religious Action Center Of Reform Judaism
Riverside Legal Aid
San Fernando Valley Young Democrats
San Mateo County Central Labor Council
San Mateo County Union Community Alliance
Services, Immigrant Rights And Education Network
St. Columba Catholic Church, Oakland
St. John’s Episcopal Church In Oakland
Sunnyvale Community Services
The Greenlining Institute
The Opportunity Institute
The United Food And Commercial Workers Western States Council
Tradeswomen, Inc.
Valley Economic Development Center
Vermont Slauson Economic Development Center
Voices For Progress
Voices For Progress Education Fund
Watts/century Latino Organization
Western Center On Law & Poverty, Inc.
Women’s Economic Ventures
Women’s Foundation Of California
Yolo Mutual Housing Association
Youth Leadership Institute
Ywca San Francisco & Marin

New Payday Loan Facts in California

Did you hear that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is finalizing rules for high-cost payday, car title, and installment loans?

If you’re curious to know more about these loans, and the impact they have (mostly negative) on Californians and our state economy, then you’ll want to read CRC’s new fact sheet on payday lending in California.

It includes the latest data from the California Department of Business Oversight, as well as research on the negative drag to California’s economy created by payday loans.

california-payday-loan-brochure

 

 

You can download the fact sheet by clicking here.

If you want to learn more about payday loans in California- and the work the California Reinvestment Coalition is doing to take on predatory lending, click here and visit the CRC website.

California Lawmakers Call on CFPB for Stronger Payday Lending Rule

Payday Lenders

Have you heard?  After decades of abusive lending practices by payday, car title, and high-cost installment lenders, a federal agency, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) will be releasing a new rule to better protect borrowers who use these loans.

The Center for Responsible Lending (CRL) and California Reinvestment Coalition (CRC) applauded California members of the U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, California State Legislature, city and county officials, and California Attorney General Kamala Harris who all sent official statements to the CFPB, calling on the bureau to strengthen an earlier, draft version of the rule.

In their letters, California lawmakers and attorney general highlighted that the proposed rule is a step in the right direction, but  that more needs to be done to ensure borrowers are not trapped in a cycle of debt by these predatory loans.

In California, payday lenders typically charge 366% APR on a $300, two-week loan.

Payday lenders and high cost lenders are also offering loans of $2,500 and above at 100% or higher  APRs. Consumers are especially vulnerable to this abusive practice as California does not have an interest rate cap for loans greater than $2,500.

“As elected representatives, we respectfully urge the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to issue a strong federal payday lending rule that puts an end to the payday, car title, and high-cost installment loan debt trap nationwide” the legislators wrote.

“These high-cost unaffordable loans are detrimental to any community, but have a disproportionate impact on our African American and Latino neighborhoods. In California, payday lenders are twice as likely to be located in communities of color than in white communities, even after accounting for income. The core principle of CFPB’s proposal is the right approach—requiring lenders to ensure that a loan is affordable without having to re-borrow or default on other expenses. However, some of the details must be strengthened in order for this approach to truly work and protect Californians from predatory lenders.”

Payday lenders have invested in efforts to ward off state laws and federal regulations that would protect consumers. Some members of the California State Legislature, including California Assemblyman Ian Calderon (District-57) have pushed to weaken regulations against payday and car title lenders by calling on the CFPB to go light on rules that prevent abusive financial practices.

“This rule will create the first nationwide regulatory floor for the payday lending industry, while maintaining the prerogative of states to further strengthen their consumer protection laws and regulations as they see fit.” the attorney general wrote. “I strongly support the Bureau’s proposal to require a meaningful “ability-to-repay” standard and to curb collection abuses, as well as its proposals for structural protections to help protect consumers from being trapped in long-term, unaffordable debt.”

“Payday and car title lending significantly harm borrowers and their families. They lead to financial consequences, such as bank penalty fees, loss of cars, and bankruptcy. It’s discouraging to see that some members of the state legislature have aligned themselves with payday lenders instead of putting the interests of California families first.” explained Center for Responsible Lending Director of California Policy Graciela Aponte-Diaz. “We commend the members and the attorney general for their leadership and standing up against the payday lending industry.”

“For years, payday lenders have siphoned money out of the pockets of Californians who can least afford it,” said California Reinvestment Coalition Director of Community Engagement Liana Molina. “We applaud our state elected officials for standing up for responsible lending and we join them in urging the CFPB to finalize a rule that will protect borrowers.”

California state legislative members who signed the comment letter were:

Senators Bob Wieckowski, Mark Leno, Senator Fran Pavley, Hannah-Beth Jackson, Mike McGuire, Benjamin Allen, and Carol Liu; and Assembly Members Mark Stone, Patty Lopez, Philip Ting, Susan Talamantes Eggman, and Susan Bonilla.

The following local policymakers also called for a stronger payday lending rule:

Berkeley City Councilmember Jesse Arreguin, Menlo Park Mayor Rich Cline, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaff, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, Roseville Mayor Carol Garcia, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, San Mateo County Board of Supervisors President Warren Slocum, and Santa Clara County Supervisor Ken Yeager.

Additionally, U.S. Representative Maxine Waters led a group of more than 100 Congressional members in sending a comment letter to the CFPB Director calling for a stronger payday lending rule.

The California Congressional delegation members who signed the comment were: Peter Aguilar, Karen Bass, Xavier Becerra, Ami Bera, Judy Chu, Mark J. DeSaulnier, Anna G. Eshoo, Sam Farr, John Garamendi, Janice Hahn, Mike Honda, Jared Huffman, Barbara Lee, Ted W. Lieu, Zoe Lofgren, Alan Lowenthal, Lucille Roybal-Allard, Linda T. Sánchez, Jackie Speier, Mark Takano, Juan Vargas, and Maxine Waters.

Both U.S. Senators from California, Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, have also signed on to a letter urging CFPB for a stronger rule.

CRL and CRC have consistently fought against abusive predatory lending practices across California. Recently, CRL and CRC sent comments to CFPB calling for the Bureau to end the payday lending debt trap and close off paths to evasion for predatory payday lenders. Read CRL’s letter here and CRC’s letter here.

As part of its rulemaking process, CFPB released its proposed rule on June 2, 2016, and has since received public comments from families, communities, and organizations. The final day for public comment was on October 7, 2016. The CFPB is expected to make its final decision on the regulations in 2017.

Los Angeles County Takes Stand Against Predatory Payday, Car Title, Installment Lending Practices, Urges Strong CFPB Rules

Editor’s note: If your organization would like to support strong consumer protections being included in the new CFPB rules for payday, car title, and high-cost installment loans, please contact Liana Molina (liana AT calreinvest.org) at CRC and she can help.  The deadline to give your feedback is approaching fast- it’s October 7, 2016!

On Thursday, September 8th, the Chair of the LA County Board of Supervisors, Hilda L. Solis, hosted a press conference with LA community leaders where she talked about the financial harms caused by predatory payday, car title, and high-cost installment loans.

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(Photo credits: Supervisor Solis' office, LULAC, Samuel Chu, and CRC)

LA County Motion

At the press conference, Supervisor Solis announced an LA County motion in support of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) implementing strong federal rules to better protect consumers from harmful lending practices by payday, car title, and high cost installment lenders. The motion was approved unanimously the following week, making Los Angeles County the largest county in California (and the US) to pass a motion supporting strong rules by the CFPB to better protect consumers from predatory lending.

Supervisor Solis explained: “This motion is an important way for the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to demonstrate that we believe protecting families and their pocketbooks is good public policy and that we strongly support the CFPB finalizing a rule that will prioritize borrowers over ill-gotten profits.”

Community Leaders

Rabbi Joel Thal Simonds, associate program director at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, opened the event. He explained: “The words of Exodus 22:24 remind us that ‘If you lend money to My people, to the poor among you, do not act toward them as a creditor; exact no interest from them.’ We seek a just and caring society in which those in need are not set on downward spiral of debt and hopelessness. That is why we must stop the abusive practice of payday lending which profits off the hardships of those living paycheck to paycheck. ”

Borrowers Discuss Their Experiences

During the press conference, former payday loan consumers also spoke about their experience with the so-called “payday loan debt trap.”  The “debt trap” refers to the fact that most payday loan borrowers are unable to repay their first loan when it comes due two weeks after they got it. So, they are forced to roll over or renew the loan, often multiple times, and they are paying an average APR in California of 366% when borrowing these loans.

Christina Griffin explained:

“When I had a financial emergency, I thought I could use a payday loan once and be done with it. Instead, I couldn’t pay back the loan two weeks later- and also be able to pay my other expenses. So, I had to keep rolling over my payday loan- which meant more and more fees and less money for other things- like groceries. As a former customer who survived the “debt trap,” I’m urging the CFPB to put a stop to this “debt trap” for future borrowers.”

Rosa Barragán shared her story of getting caught in a long term cycle of payday loan debt when she took out a loan following the passing of her husband.  You can read more of her story in La Opinión’s article about the press conference: Exigen mano dura para las compañías de ‘payday loans’.

rosa-barragan-photo-credit-chair-solis-office

Rosa Barragan speaking

Pit of Despair Art Installation

In addition to the press conference, a visually stunning, life-sized 3D art installation, the “Pit of Despair” was unveiled.  It was created by an artist named Melanie Stimmel and the team at We Talk Chalk, and it is a graphic illustration of how payday lending really works. The interactive art display has traveled around the country to visually demonstrate the “debt trap” that the majority of payday loan borrowers find themselves in when they are unable to make a balloon payment to repay their loan two weeks after they receive it. As a result, most borrowers renew their loans repeatedly (incurring more charges each time), which has been labeled the “payday loan debt trap.”

Putting finishing touch on Pit of Despair- thanks Americans for Financial Reform!

Putting finishing touch on Pit of Despair- thanks to Americans for Financial Reform for sharing it!

The Negative Impact of Payday Loan Stores in Los Angeles
Los Angeles County is home to approximately 800 payday loan storefronts, by far the most of any county in California. Because of the structure and terms of payday, car title, and high-cost installment loans, they worsen the financial position of most borrowers. Research has found that lenders are disproportionately located in communities of color, and are a net drag on the overall economy.

Bill Allen, CEO of the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation, explained the impact  of payday loan fees recently in an LA Daily News OpEd:

“These “alternatives” drain low-income residents’ scant savings. More than $54 million in check-cashing fees and $88 million in payday loan fees each year are paid by county residents. If those consumers had better financial services options, much of that $142 million could go toward building household savings, thus increasing economic stability for their families and communities.”

Gabriella Landeros from the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor explained: “Working families deserve better than the harmful financial products peddled by these lenders, and we join the LA County Board of Supervisors in urging the CFPB to finalize and enforce a strong rule to protect consumers.”

Liana Molina, director of community engagement at the California Reinvestment Coalition, helped organize the event and coordinated with the StopTheDebtTrap team at Americans for Financial Reform to bring the “Pit of Despair” art installation.  She explained:

“The payday loan industry advertises their loans as quick, one-time “fix” for a financial emergencies. In reality, these loans are designed to do the opposite. The majority of borrowers will end up renewing their loans repeatedly and incurring huge fees every time they do so. The CFPB can stop this “debt trap cycle” by implementing a strong rule that would require lenders to underwrite these loans, to determine that borrowers have the ability to repay without having to re-borrow or default on other expenses.”

CRC extends a big thank you to the organizations that made the event possible:

East LA Community Corporation (ELACC),

LULAC – California,

New Economics for Women (NEW),

Mexican American Opportunity Foundation (MAOF),

Montebello Housing Development Corporation (MHDC),

Consumer Action,

Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO,

Labor Community Services, AFL CIO,

Pacific Asian Consortium in Employment (PACE),

Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council (A3PCON),

Multi-Cultural Real Estate Alliance for Urban Change,

Thai Community Development Center (Thai CDC),

Haven Neighborhood Services,

Korean Churches for Community Development (KCCD),

Koreatown Youth and Community Center (KYCC),

Public Counsel,

Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism, and

VEDC

Additional Background on the Impact of Payday Loans in California 

While fourteen states and the District of Columbia have interest rate caps of about 36% APR or less, California law allows for two-week, $300 payday loans at 459% APR interest.

The California Department of Business Oversight recently released two reports on payday lending, and car title and high cost installment loans.

A few stats are included below:

1) Total Number of payday loans: Approximately 12.3 million payday loans were made in California in 2015 and the aggregate dollar amount of the payday loans was about $4.2 billion.

2) Average number of loans and average APRs: The average number of payday loans per customer was 6.5, paying an average APR of 366% (a 5% increase from 2014).

3) Repeat borrowers and “churning” of loans: Contrary to loans being advertised as a “one time fix for emergencies,” 64% of fees in 2015 ($53.53 million) – came from customers who had seven or more payday loan transactions during the year.

2015 Payday Loan Statistics for California

Editor’s note: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is finalizing new rules for payday, car title, and high-cost installment loans. They want to hear from YOU about your experiences and recommendations for the loans. Please take two minutes to provide your insights here. 

California Payday Lending Statistics

1) Total Number of loans:  Approximately 12.3 million loans were made in California in 2015 and the aggregate dollar amount of the loans was about $4.2 billion.

2) Average number of loans and average APRs: The average number of loans per customer was 6.5, paying an average APR of 366% (average APR increased 5% from 2014).[1]

3) Repeat borrowers and “churning” of loans: Contrary to loans being advertised as a “one time fix for emergencies” the number of Californians who obtained 10 payday loans (462,334) was far greater than the number who only had one loan (323,870). Subsequent transactions by the same borrower accounted for 76% of the total number of loans made in 2015 with 47% of subsequent loans made the same day a previous loan transaction was paid off and another 23% happening within 1-7 days.

CA DBO new report number of transactions

Graph is from CA Dept. of Business Oversight Report on 2015 Payday Lending Statistics

4) Churning profits: 64% of fees in 2015 ($53.53 million) – came from customers who had seven or more transactions during the year.

Fees collected

Graph is from CA Dept. of Business Oversight Report on 2015 Payday Lending Statistics 

5) Repossessions: 16,989 car title loans resulted in the consumer’s car being repossessed in 2015.[2] At the national level, the CFPB has found that 1 in 5 car title loans ultimately results in a repossession.[3]

6) Fees: California payday loan consumers pay over $507 million annually in payday loans and over $239 million in car title loans.  This ranks California in the #2 spot for highest amount of fees paid for car title and payday loans.[4]

7 Economic drain: Payday lending is an estimated $135 million net drain on California’s economy every year and subtracts 1,975 jobs.[5]

Customers age

Graph is from CA Dept. of Business Oversight Report on 2015 Payday Lending Statistics on ages 

The California Reinvestment Coalition builds an inclusive and fair economy that meets the needs of communities of color and low-income communities by ensuring that banks and other corporations invest and conduct business in our communities in a just and equitable manner.

You might also be interested in these payday lending posts:

Editorials Against Payday Lenders (As of July 2016, there’s been more than 150 editorials written from around the country about the financial harm caused by these lenders).

Payday Lender Hall of Shame This industry is known for spectacularly shady practices against its consumers. We’ve compiled some of the worst.

8 Reasons Not to Get An Online Payday Loan Is that really a lender’s website you’re on?  Or is it a broker who will re-sell your sensitive information repeatedly?

Data Sources:

[1] CA Dept. of Business Oversight press release, available at: http://www.dbo.ca.gov/Press/press_releases/2016/2016%20CDDTL%20Annual%20Report%20and%20Industry%20Survey%20Press%20Release%2007-06-16.pdf

[2] CA Dept. of Business Oversight 2015 CFLL annual report, available at: http://www.dbo.ca.gov/Licensees/Finance_Lenders/pdf/2015_CFLL_Aggregated_Annual_Report_FINAL.pdf

[3] Consumer Financial Protection Bureau press release, available at: http://www.consumerfinance.gov/about-us/newsroom/cfpb-finds-one-five-auto-title-loan-borrowers-have-vehicle-seized-failing-repay-debt/

[4] Center for Responsible Lending report, available at: http://responsiblelending.org/sites/default/files/nodes/files/research-publication/crl_statebystate_fee_drain_may2016_0.pdf

[5] Insight Center for Community Economic Development report, available at: http://ww1.insightcced.org/uploads/assets/Net%20Economic%20Impact%20of%20Payday%20Lending.pdf

The CFPB’s Impact in California

Have you heard? Yesterday was the 5th anniversary of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  In that short time, the agency has built a reputation for dramatically increasing transparency into the financial services market, leveling the playing field between consumers and financial corporations, and putting bad actors on notice that they will face consequences.

bday cake

Senator Elizabeth Warren is widely credited with the idea of an agency that would stand up for financial consumers, and the CFPB was included in the Dodd Frank financial reform that was passed in response to the mortgage meltdown.

While advocates had repeatedly warned federal and state regulators and elected officials about the predatory mortgages that were being made, these warnings fell on deaf ears.

IMG_4294

Predatory loan advertising

In the summer of 2013, CRC and our allies urged the US Senate to confirm Richard Cordray as director of the CFPB and we were happy to see that he confirmed on July 16, 2013.

CFPB confirm!

CRC and our allies delivering over 25,000 petitions from Californians, urging the US Senate to confirm Richard Cordray.

Since then, Cordray and his CFPB colleagues have been busy!

In an April snapshot about California and complaints submitted by Californians, the CFPB reported:

1) As of April 1, 2016, Californians had submitted 118,900 of the total 859,900 complaints the CFPB had received at that point, or about 14%.

2) Complaints from Los Angeles and San Francisco accounted for nearly 50% of these complaints.  (CRC won’t claim credit for all of the San Francisco complaints, but we receive a fair amount of phone calls from harmed consumers and we frequently suggest making a complaint to the CFPB if it is accepting complaints for that particular product.  Not only does this hopefully lead to redress for the affected consumer, but it also helps the CFPB to see if there are concerning trends- for example if a lot of consumers are complaining about a particular company or product).

3) Speaking of “lots of complaints about a particular product,” mortgages were #1 most complained about product in the April snapshot, accounting for 32% of complaints.  In fact, complaints from California were more likely to be about mortgages as compared to the number of complaints made about mortgages at the national level (about 26%).

4) Debt collection was also frequently complained about, representing 24% of all California complaints, as compared to 26% nationally.

5) Most complained about companies: The CFPB received the most complaints from California consumers about Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Experian.

We’re including five examples of how the CFPB has stood up for consumers below:

1) Stopping Illegal Harassment of Payday Loan Borrowers: The CFPB has stopped companies from engaging in illegal and predatory behavior- like Ace Cash Express illegally harassing their customers into rolling over their payday loans. In announcing the settlement, Director Cordray explained: “This culture of coercion drained millions of dollars from cash-strapped consumers who had few options to fight back.”   Take a look at this graphic from the CFPB’s settlement with Ace Cash Express.  It’s from their new employee training manual and provides a clear diagram on how Ace tried to keep its borrowers caught in the payday loan debt trap:

ACE Cash Express

2) Targeting Enablers Too: The CFPB doesn’t just target bad actors, it also targets companies that enable bad actors- like this California based lead generator (D and D Marketing, doing business as T3Leads (T3)) that sold consumer loan applications as “leads” to small-dollar lenders. The CFPB explained that “T3 failed to vet or monitor its lead generators and lead purchasers, exposing consumers to the risk of having their information purchased by actors who would use it for illegal purposes. T3 allowed its lead generators to attract consumers with misleading statements and took unreasonable advantage of consumers’ lack of understanding of the material risks, costs, or conditions of the loan products for which they apply. T3’s conduct was unfair and abusive….”

To understand why online lead generators can be so bad for customers, take a look at this NPR Story: I applied for an online payday loan: here’s what happened next.

3) Loan Modification Scam Artists: In some ways, California was ground zero for the mortgage meltdown, especially since many of the most predatory lenders (like Countrywide) were headquartered in Southern California.  Since the mortgage meltdown, more bottom-feeding vultures have emerged, preying on desperate homeowners with promises of costly loan modifications that never materialize.  In July 2014, the CFPB, FTC, and state regulators announced a sweep against these scam artists.  The Bureau filed three lawsuits against these companies and individuals who had collected more than $25 million in illegal fees for services that were never delivered.  California was also “well-represented,” with a number of these scam artists located in our state. The CDPB’s complaint alleged that one of these firms,  Clausen, Cobb, and CCMC “managed, staffed, and supported the deceptive loan modification operations of Stephen Siringoringo’s southern California law firm. The State Bar of California initially referred the misconduct to the CFPB.”

4) Predatory Mortgage Loan Servicing: The CFPB hasn’t only gone after scam artists- it’s also worked to stop companies who are cutting corners and hurting their customers in the process.  One such company is Ocwen, a mortgage loan servicer.  In 2013, the CFPB announced a $2 billion settlement against Ocwen for “systemic misconduct at every stage of the mortgage servicing process.”  The settlement also covered homeowners with loans from Litton (a servicer formerly owned by Goldman Sachs who had also received low marks for the way it treated its customers) and Homeward Residential Holdings LLC (formerly American Home Mortgage Servicing Inc.).

5) Protecting Mortgage Customers: During the “Wild West” days of mortgage lending leading which later caused the mortgage meltdown, lenders routinely rewarded their staff members for putting customers into more expensive mortgages.  Surprisingly, this practice was allegedly still in place at RPM Mortgage, according to a 2015, $19 million settlement with the CFPB.

If you’d like to learn more about the CFPB, check out these resources:

Consumers Count: Five years standing up for you