The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is still getting its feet wet seeing as how the President just assigned Richard Cordray to the agency a few months ago. That doesn’t mean they don’t want to hit the ground running, though.
According to the the Chicago Tribune, Cordray mentioned discriminatory lenders in a recent speech and warned that they would be the first to really see the force of the new agency. “The Consumer Bureau is still in its infancy, but we will not be silent on discriminatory lending practices. Our twin goals here are to protect consumers and empower them to be able to protect themselves.”
The CFPB plans to monitor the financial institutions for potential lending violations. This will be regarding all forms of consumer credit including auto loans, credit cards, and student loans. According to the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, lenders are barred from basing credit decisions on race, color, religion, sex, or marital status. The CFPB will also be looking for disparate impact in lending in which lending practices aren’t discriminatory themselves but have discriminatory effects. Cordray also touched on this goal in his speech, stating, “This subtle but powerful form of discrimination creates damages that are no less direct than the kind of overt and blatant discrimination that, we hope and assume, is increasingly a relic of a bygone era.
To better illustrate the impact that these practices can have, the Chicago Tribune article highlights the disparity in African-American households. On average, the median wealth dropped more than 50 percent in the years 2005 and 2009. Hispanics saw even worse results, losing 66 percent in their wealth. This has not stopped the discriminatory lending from targeting these groups, however.
The CFPB looks to be a powerful force in aiding the consumer in a time where everyone is looking to take advantage of them. One of the key tools they plan on using is education. They want to make sure that everyone has the right knowledge to keep from being victims. “Whether they are applying for an auto loan, student loan, or home loan, consumers need to know their rights and they need to know what red flags to look for that may indicate their rights are being violated,” Cordray said. “We want consumers to be able to recognize when they may be victims of discrimination.”
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