Lawmakers in California are rushing to create a new financial protection watchdog agency by the end of the month. They say it’s needed because, under the Trump administration, the main federal regulator has been paralyzed.
And they say that during the pandemic that is leaving millions of Americans who are in dire financial straits more vulnerable to predatory lenders, get-out-of-debt-scams and other wrongdoing.
One study last year found that the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s enforcement activity plunged by 80% from 2015. And money returned to consumers dropped by 96%.
“We are now as states left to do the work ourselves,” says California Assembly member Monique Limón.
Along with Gov. Gavin Newsom, she is proposing to create the new state watchdog agency, which would be called the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation. But a legislative deadline means they need to do it by Aug. 31.
“Consumer protections are an area where California wants to show that we care,” Limón says. “As the fifth-largest economy in the world we think that it is very important and it’s the right thing to do.”
The new agency would give the state broader power and ability to police aggressive debt collectors, credit repair schemes, predatory lenders and other shady financial practices.
Limón proposed the agency before the pandemic. But she says given the economic fallout, the need for more oversight is greater now.
“The timing of it is even more important,” she says, noting that since the Covid outbreak, consumer complaints about financial wrongdoing in the state are up 40 percent. State officials say some of those complaints are about mortgage companies, personal loans, and companies that promise to help people get out of debt.
A long list of fair lending and consumer protection groups are backing the proposal. With upwards of 8 million people applying for unemployment in California alone, “many people are teetering on the brink of insolvency here,” says Suzanne Martindale , who works on policy issues for Consumer Reports.
“A bad loan, a risky payday product, an aggressive debt collector, that can push someone over the edge into poverty, into bankruptcy and homelessness at the worst possible time in the middle of a public health crisis,” she says. “So, the case is even stronger now.”
At a recent legislative hearing, small business groups said they want the new agency to protect them from predatory financial practices too.
Financial firms of course are not usually big fans of additional regulation. But Beth Mills with the California Bankers Association says she supports the new agency better policing some of the banks’ competitors.
She says many online lenders for example face much looser regulations than the banks do.
“We would welcome greater regulation on them to make sure that we’re operating under the same rules,” Mills says.
But when it comes to the companies that her group represents — which she says are most of the large and small banks and lenders in the state, she says, “we would like to be exempt from the bill because the banks and financial institutions that we represent are already very heavily regulated at both the state and federal level.”
And it appears the financial firms have the ear of some lawmakers. A group of moderate Democrats is pressuring Newsom to allow for large carve-outs for many financial firms, a source close to the negotiations over the proposal tells NPR. And that could weaken the new agency’s ability to go after companies who take advantage of people.
Richard Cordray, a former director of the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, says that would be a big mistake.
“I don’t think that the legislature should make it hard for consumers to get their money back when they’ve been victimized by unfair, deceptive and abusive practices,” says Cordray, who has been consulting on the bill.
Cordray says, if it’s done right, the new agency could be a model for other states for how to have a tough financial watchdog agency of their own. And he says Congress envisioned that when it created the federal CFPB under the Dodd-Frank financial reform act.
“The financial reform law,” he says, “had an implicit promise in it that there would be consumer financial protection at the federal level, but there would also be room for significant consumer financial protection at the state level and that the two could work in partnership.”
He says it also envisioned that, “if one was doing its job and the other was pulling back, there still would be protection for consumers.” Cordray says this new agency could live out that promise.
But, a legislative deadline means the bill has to get passed by the end of the month if the agency is to be created this year. There’s a key hearing with lawmakers over the weekend.
Technically, the new agency would be created by restructuring and expanding the size and authority of an existing agency called the Department of Business Oversight.
Lafayette business receives cease and desist order for lack of credit repair bond
LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) – A Better Business Bureau Serving Acadiana complaint and subsequent investigation led to the Louisiana Office of the Attorney General issuing a “cease and desist” order to Lafayette-based Virtuous Business Consulting and owner Jessica Chaisson.
The business was ordered to immediately stop performing credit repair services at their 1003 Louisiana Ave. location. Virtuous Business Consulting currently has an F rating with BBB.
The AG order settles allegations the business performed credit repair services without the required $100,000 surety bond as required by state law under the Louisiana Credit Repair Services Organizations Act. Under terms of the order, the business was required to immediately stop performing credit repair services as well as provide the names and contact information for anyone who used their credit repair service. The order was for settlement purposes only and should not be considered as an admission of guilt.
According to BBB records, the company received a complaint from a consumer, alleging the company accepted an advance fee for credit repair then never performed the service. The business did not respond to the consumer complaint.
BBB sent correspondence to the business on Nov. 4, 2020, requesting a brief description of the products or services offered, copies of marketing materials provided to their customers, copies of any service agreements provided to customers and a copy of the required surety bond but BBB didn’t received a response.
“Hearing from consumer experiences help us keep the public informed with situations such as these,” said Jillian Dickerson, BBB Serving Acadiana President and CEO.
According to the U.S. Credit Repair Organizations Act, “No credit repair organization may charge or receive any money or other valuable consideration for the performance of any service which the credit repair organization has agreed to perform for any consumer before such service is fully performed.”
When looking for credit repair services or debt relief, consider the following:
- Understand the difference between credit repair services and debt relief. Credit repair companies repair credit reports for a fee; debt relief are typically programs that offer loans to consolidate debt.
- Carefully research companies on BBB.org before agreeing to any services and make sure the company can help resolve the situation.
- Before signing any contract, read and understand the terms and conditions, especially if it involves a loan.
This 7-Figure Wealth Coach Has Helped Countless People Repair Their Credit During the Pandemic
Coach Legend, as he is known, has been helping people struggling financially during the pandemic increase their credit scores and gain greater financial freedom. He has largely done so with the help of Instagram and Facebook. Through his genuine and authentic approach to social media marketing, Coach Legend has been able to help countless people turn their lives around.
What makes Coach Legend someone people turn to receive advice from is his authentic approach. For him, forging personal relationships is more important than making money. While it is definitely a nice perk of what he does, he isn not motivated by it.
Coach Legend’s primary motivation is helping others. It just so happens that he is great at relating with people and motivating them to improve their lives.
These days, this wealth coach is focused on helping with credit repair. That is because the pandemic cleaned out the accounts of many in 2020. With non-essential businesses closing across the country, many had been furloughed, have seen their hours reduced, or were simply let go. This led to financial hardships for millions of people.
Those who sought to buy homes and cars, or wanted to start their own businesses, came up against financial barriers. With a low credit score, it becomes incredibly challenging to get any sort of decent loan. Thankfully, Coach Legend knows what steps need to be taken to improve financial situations and credit scores.
Thanks to his helpful advice, countless people have been able to improve their credit scores and financial situations. His clients have been able to get the houses and cars they wanted, and are able to enjoy the financial freedom they thought was beyond them.
Coach Legend knows all too well how limiting it can be to work for someone else or be dependent on someone else for your livelihood. That is why he explored becoming an entrepreneur. He saw other mentors of his unlock financial abundance and sovereignty by becoming their own bosses. That is what he decided to do after learning everything he needed to know. It wasn’t long before Coach Legend was operating several different businesses.
By taking the entrepreneurial path, he was able to say goodbye to hard times and limits on what he could achieve. Becoming financially literate was also instrumental in him accessing the abundance that was waiting for him. Coach Legend now enthusiastically teaches others how to gain financial freedom as well, given his extensive experience with the steps needed to take to unlock it.
Social media has been a tremendous resource for Coach Legend, who has audiences on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube. There, he dispenses sage advice and extends an invitation to anyone who is looking to improve their financial situation to receive advice and guidance from him.
You can watch some of Coach Legend’s keen insights when it comes to success and mindset by heading over to his Instagram Page.
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