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New California Financial Watchdog Would Take Aim At Predatory Lenders Amid Pandemic

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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.”

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.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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A post-game apolitical commentary

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Well, that was something.

It’s time to let it go. Maybe we can all agree not to wear our made-in-China political merch 24/7 and turn the online virtue-signaling down a notch or two.

Let’s allow one bumper sticker per vehicle and the occasional meme if it’s genuinely funny, but if you’re going to roll up in a $50,000 pickup wrapped with glamour shots of your preferred dear leader and statements of your core beliefs, you’re going to get side-eyed in our brave new world. Because that’s a little nutty, dude.

For once, maybe we need a boring guy with very little flavor in the White House. Somebody who’s almost no one’s first choice, but we can all agree isn’t trying to leverage the office to increase his Twitter following.

We probably won’t return to where it’s almost rude to bring up politics in mixed company, but maybe we can let everything recede a bit. Let’s get back to where we were dog-cussin’ both parties and acknowledge that most of the time politics doesn’t impinge on the way we live our lives. And that there’s very little we can do about it anyway.

Sure, on a local level, you might be able to get something done. Maybe you can help elect a school board candidate or get a pothole filled. A vote is a vote, and despite what some people might try to tell you, they all count. But the chances of your particular vote affecting a national election are pretty negligible. (I’ve heard one in a billion, but that sounds high.)

There’s only so much we can do. And we should do what we can, but also recognize that we cannot change the world. And that worrying about what we can’t change is a waste of effort and probably a good way to make ourselves unhappy. Which is why it’s best to not think about politics most of the time.

Politics, when done right, is pretty boring to most people. The decisions made by those we elect make a difference, and it’s understandable why some people become deeply interested in the details of these transactions. Some enjoy the drama. They like to follow the personalities and root for the interests with which they have–often for reasons that have little to do with their own particular situations–aligned.

Some people identify as political junkies. Some people are hockey fans.

What’s distressing is the sheer number of Americans who have adopted politics as their favorite pastime. They dress in team colors and attend to the homer entertainment channels–MSNBC, Fox, OAN, CNN, Breitbart–that cater to their tastes. We ought to stop that and find something better to do than bask in the stupefying glow of the made-up 24-hour news cycle.

Because there isn’t enough news for a 24-hour cycle; about 23 and 3/4 hours of programming on any particular news channel is likely to be fake outrage or some failed comedian auditioning for his own cult by going on about evil rich or poor people in between ads for credit repair and uncirculated American Silver Eagle coins. It’s designed to keep you watching, to hold your attention so they can sell you to their advertisers.

But you knew that, because you’re an adult. Right?

You’re not like the people you see on Facebook pretending to be constitutional scholars and epidemiologists holding forth on platforms in the public interest. You know exactly what the limits of your expertise are and don’t offer up your advice for free.

You’re not one of those people still posting about face-swapping, clones and adrenochrome.

We need more sports and movies now, more music. In a good society, we should be able to ignore politics and simply attend to occasional civic rituals, which re-occur like necessary chores. We should be free to be apolitical. If you’re going to be obsessed by something, it ought to be deep and soulful, not the performative wolf-crying of men and women who mean to make a career of presenting themselves as leaders. Baseball is something more worthy of your investment.

No one should care as much about politics as a lot of us have these past four years. But let’s hope these years were extraordinary, as in not normal. And that while the trauma and damage they inflicted was very real–for a while there you could see the American id roaring and thrashing; you could see the beast inside–we are returning to a less dramatic, markedly calmer state.

We have managed to stuff a monster back in the closet. It’s not gone; all that rage will still find weak points and fault lines to exploit. We will still have school shootings and atrocities committed by the damaged and the prideful, but it’s probably going to be a while before the war on decency throws up another avatar as bald and raw as what we’ve just seen.

The next would-be dictator–and there will be another one–will be smoother and smarter and less reliant on simplistic slogans and obvious lies to stir the passions of the aggrieved.

The next one will present as rational and reasonable and data-driven.

That’s just evolution, which is science, which some of you don’t credit. That’s OK. Science, unlike magic, functions independently of faith. Someone is going to do the math and find a way to determine the best choice in any given situation.

The days of intuition and talent are numbered. Big data is going to reduce us all to tendencies and probabilities. As mysterious as we may seem to ourselves, given a big enough sample size, we are all parsable.

We should welcome our nerdy overlords. They will unlock the math, and it will become a question of making optimal decisions. They’ll bleed the art out of politics, just like they have poker and basketball.

I don’t know what to do about them, short of acknowledging that facts matter and that the end of history is still out there beyond the horizon. It’s not inevitable that the good guys win; looking back over the centuries, it’s not clear if the good guys even have a winning record. It’s been a pretty good rivalry.

We made it. Take a deep breath, but leave your mask on. Pitchers and catchers report Feb. 12.

pmartin@adgnewsroom.com

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www.blooddirtangels.com

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What You Need to Know About Credit Repair

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Credit Score Repair Services

Navigating today’s world is not an easy undertaking, especially when you happen to have a bad credit.  The vast majority of companies use your credit score to decide whether to do business with you. Some even use this information to set the pricing for products and services you use. That’s why you must strive to maintain a good credit score at all times.

But what if you already have a troubled credit history? When this is the case, you should make an effortto repair your credit.  In this post, we will take you through some of the things you need to know about credit repair. Keep on reading to find out more.

You Can Do It Yourself

While companies that offer repair bad credit fast services may be the most viable option for some people, there’s nothing they can do for you that you can’t do for yourself. Provided you understand what is expected, you will repair credit online from the comfort of your home. The secret lies in educating yourself on how credit works and what it takes to repair credit report online. Through this action, it will only be a matter of time before you repair your credit score.

Don’t Expect Overnight Results

Whereas you may have the best app to repair credit, you should not expect to see results overnight. Keep in mind it takes time to rebuild a bad credit history. Furthermore, your credit score may fluctuate during the repair process since the information in your credit report changes. To be on the safe side, it is highly advisable that you prioritize the general trend of your credit score over a period of time.

For those who are still finding it hard, then it’s in your best interest that you seek help from professionals. By professionals we are simply referring to companies that offer credit score repair services. Alternatively, you can make use of credit repair software for individuals. The decision you settle on is entirely based on your needs.

The Bottom Line

With professionals that offer credit report repair online services, it is important that you learn to be patient during the entire process. Remember, the duration it takes tends to vary from one person to another. The good news is that you will notice a significant change whenever something is deleted from your credit report.

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Lafayette business receives cease and desist order for lack of credit repair bond

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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.

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