Consumer bureau asks for complaints about agency practices ahead of major shake-up

Consumer bureau asks for complaints about agency practices ahead of major shake-up
© Greg Nash

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is asking the firms its regulates to submit complaints about the agency’s core actions.

The CFPB announced Wednesday that the agency will ask “for evidence to ensure the bureau is fulfilling its proper and appropriate functions to best protect consumers.”

The request is the latest step forward in acting Director Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyOn The Money: House panel pulls Powell into partisan battles | New York considers hiking taxes on the rich | Treasury: Trump's payroll tax deferral won't hurt Social Security Blockchain trade group names Mick Mulvaney to board Mick Mulvaney to start hedge fund MORE’s effort to draw back the bureau’s aggressive regulatory and enforcement actions.

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Mulvaney said in a Wednesday statement that it’s “natural for the Bureau to critically examine its policies and practices to ensure they align with the Bureau’s statutory mandate.”

“Moving forward, the Bureau will consistently seek out constructive feedback and welcome ideas for improvement,” Mulvaney said. “Much can be done to facilitate greater consumer choice and efficient markets, while vigorously enforcing consumer financial law in a way that guarantees due process.”

The CFPB will publish a series of requests for comment in the federal register, often the first step an agency takes before proposing a rule. The first request asks for complaints about the bureau’s civil investigative demands, a type of subpoena the bureau uses during enforcement actions.

Mulvaney, who's also the director of the Office of Management and Budget, has shifted the CFPB's focus to deregulation and expanding choices for consumers. The complaint requests would likely yield a massive trove of CFPB criticism that Mulvaney could use to justify sweeping changes.

Financial services companies have long complained about the CFPB’s sweeping power to investigate and penalize firms that appear to have violated consumer protection laws.

Banks, credit card companies, lenders and loan servicers say the bureau tramples on due process and hinders firms that may have done nothing wrong.

Democrats have fiercely defended the CFPB’s expansive powers, pressing the need for an independent agency to crackdown on abusive financial practices.

Mulvaney’s announcement comes a day after the CFPB announced a process to delay compliance with a 2017 rule on payday lending.