Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

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Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
CFPB Logo.png
Agency overview
Formed July 21, 2011 (2011-07-21)
(7 years, 212 days ago)
Jurisdiction United States
Headquarters Washington, D.C.
Employees 1,623 (2016)[1]
Annual budget US$605.9 million (FY 2016)[2]
Agency executives
Key document

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is an independent agency of the United States government responsible for consumer protection in the financial sector. Its jurisdiction includes banks, credit unions, securities firms, payday lenders, mortgage-servicing operations, foreclosure relief services, debt collectors and other financial companies operating in the United States.

The CFPB's creation was authorized by the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, whose passage in 2010 was a legislative response to the financial crisis of 2007–08 and the subsequent Great Recession.[3]


According to Director Richard Cordray, the Bureau's priorities are mortgages, credit cards and student loans.[3][4] It was designed to consolidate employees and responsibilities from a number of other federal regulatory bodies, including the Federal Reserve, the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the National Credit Union Administration and even the Department of Housing and Urban Development.[5] The bureau is an independent unit located inside and funded by the United States Federal Reserve, with interim affiliation with the U.S. Treasury Department. It writes and enforces rules for financial institutions, examines both bank and non-bank financial institutions, monitors and reports on markets, as well as collects and tracks consumer complaints.[4] Furthermore, as required under Dodd-Frank and outlined in the 2013 CFPB-State Supervisory Coordination Framework, the CFPB works closely with state regulators in coordinating supervision and enforcement activities.[6]

The CFPB opened its website in early February 2011 to accept suggestions from consumers via YouTube, Twitter, and its own website interface. According to the United States Treasury Department, the bureau is tasked with the responsibility to "promote fairness and transparency for mortgages, credit cards, and other consumer financial products and services".[7] According to its web site, the CFPB's "central to make markets for consumer financial products and services work for Americans—whether they are applying for a mortgage, choosing among credit cards, or using any number of other consumer financial products".[8]


In July 2010, Congress passed the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, during the 111th United States Congress in response to the Late-2000s recession and financial crisis.[3] The agency was originally proposed in 2007 by Harvard Law School professor Elizabeth Warren.[9] The proposed CFPB was actively supported by Americans for Financial Reform, a newly created umbrella organization of some 250 consumer, labor, civil rights and other activist organizations.[10] On September 17, 2010, Obama announced the appointment of Warren as Assistant to the President and Special Advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to set up the new agency.[11][12] The CFPB formally began operation on July 21, 2011, shortly after Obama announced that Warren would be passed over as Director in favor of Richard Cordray,[13] who prior to the nomination had been hired as chief of enforcement for the agency.[14]

Dispute over director

President Barack Obama announces the nomination of Richard Cordray as the first director of the CFPB on July 18, 2011

Elizabeth Warren, who proposed and established the CFPB, was removed from consideration for nomination as the bureau's first formal director after Obama administration officials became convinced Warren "could not overcome strong Republican opposition".[15] On July 17, President Obama nominated former Ohio Attorney General and Ohio State Treasurer Richard Cordray to be the CFPB first formal director.[16] However, his nomination was immediately in jeopardy due to 44 Senate Republicans vowing to derail any nominee in order to encourage a decentralized structure to the organization. Senate Republicans had also shown a pattern of refusing to consider regulatory agency nominees, purportedly as a method of budget cutting.[17] Due to the way the legislation creating the bureau was written, until the first Director was in place, the agency was not able to write new rules or supervise financial institutions other than banks.[5]

On July 21, Senator Richard Shelby wrote an op‑ed for the Wall Street Journal affirming continued opposition to a centralized structure, noting that both the Securities Exchange Commission and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation had executive boards and that the CFPB should be no different. He noted lessons learned from experiences with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as support for his argument.[18] Politico interpreted Shelby's statements as saying that Cordray's nomination was "dead on arrival".[19] Republican threats of a filibuster in the Senate to block the nomination in December 2011 led to Senate inaction.

On January 4, 2012, Barack Obama issued a recess appointment to install Cordray as director through the end of 2013; this was highly controversial move as the Senate was technically in pro-forma session, and the possibility existed that the appointment could be challenged in court.[20]

The constitutionality of Cordray's recess appointment came into question due to a January 2013 ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that President Obama's appointment of three members to the NLRB (at the same time as Cordray) violated the Constitution.[21]

On July 16, 2013, the Senate confirmed Richard Cordray as director in a 66–34 vote.[22]

Proposed amendments

On July 11, 2013, the CFPB Rural Designation Petition and Correction Act (H.R. 2672; 113th Congress) was introduced into the House of Representatives. The bill would amend the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act to direct the CFPB to establish an application process that would allow a person to get their county designated as "rural" for purposes of a federal consumer financial law.[23] One practical effect of having a county designated "rural" is that people can qualify for some types of mortgages by getting them exempted from the CFPB's qualified mortgage rule.[24][25]

On September 26, 2013, the Consumer Financial Protection Safety and Soundness Improvement Act of 2013 (H.R. 3193; 113th Congress) was introduced into the United States House of Representatives.[26] If adopted, the bill would have modified the CFPB by transforming it into a five-person commission and removing it from the Federal Reserve System.[27] The CFPB would have been renamed the "Financial Product Safety Commission". The bill was also intended to make it easier to override the CFPB decisions. It passed in the House of Representatives on February 27, 2014 and was received by the Senate on March 4.[28] It was never considered in the Democratic-controlled Senate.[29]

Regulatory activities

Credit cards


Regulatory implementation regarding mortgages is covered on the bureau website. Topics provided for consumers include, 2013 mortgage rule implementation, resources to help people comply, quick reference charts, supervision and examination materials, and a link for feedback. It also provides additional information that covers rural or under-served counties, HUD-approved housing counselors, and Appendix Q.[30]

Appendix Q relates to the debt-to-income ratio that must be possessed for "qualified mortgages" and provides details about how to determine the factors for that calculation. The standard is set at no more than 43 percent.

Retirement and Insurance investments

The CFPB is weighing whether it should take on a role in helping Americans manage retirement savings and regulate savings plans, particularly focusing on investment scams that target the retired and elderly. "That’s one of the things we’ve been exploring and are interested in in terms of whether and what authority we have”, bureau director Richard Cordray said in a January 2013 interview.[31] Some conservatives have been critical of this potential role, with William Tucker of the American Media Institute asserting that the agency intends to "control" retirement savings and force people to buy federal debt.[32] The AARP has encouraged the agency to take an active role, arguing that the bureau will help protect elderly Americans from affinity fraud that often targets senior citizens, ensuring that their investments are less likely to be stolen through securities fraud or malpractice.[33]

The main regulator of retirement and benefit plans established by employers and private industry is the Department of Labor, which enforces the main laws (ERISA, COBRA, and HIPAA). For this reason, retirement plans (including 401(k), SIMPLE, 403(b), and traditional defined-benefit pensions as well as many aspects of employer group-health plans. The Affordable Care Act, establishing marketplaces selling health plans directly to consumers, adopted the ERISA-style regulatory model, requiring all plans to have standardized documents such as a Summary Plan Document (SPD), but the marketplace was regulated by the individual insurance commissioners of every state, with some states having multiple regulators (California maintains both a Department of Insurance and a Department of Managed Care). IRAs, also directed to consumers, are regulated by type of custodian (the FDIC regulates bank custodians, the IRS regulates nonbank custodians). Annuities, life insurance, and disability insurance purchased directly by consumers, are regulated by individual state insurance commissioners. Marketing to consumers is generally regulated by the FCC and various state laws.

Because state commissioners are the main regulators, the CFPD is unlikely to assume a leadership role in retirement investment regulation without further legislation and possibly a US constitutional amendment transferring insurance lawmaking power to the federal government. In 2011, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners identified "The single most significant challenge for state insurance regulators is to be vigilant in the protection of consumers, especially in light of the changes taking place in the financial services marketplace.,"[34] and the CFPD may help fill this void. Many have argued the state-based system of insurance regulation (including insurance-like products such as annuities) is highly economically inefficient, results in uneven and unportable insurance plans, artificially shrinks risk pools (especially in smaller states) resulting in higher premiums, limits mobility of brokers who have to recertify in new states, complicates the needs of multistate business, and should be replaced with a national insurance regulator or national insurance charter option as has taken place with the regulation of securities and banking.[35][36]

Public outreach

The CFPB has created a number of personal finance tools for consumers, including Ask CFPB, which compiles plain-language answers to personal finance questions, and Paying for College, which estimates the cost of attending specific universities based on the financial aid offers a student has received.[37][38]

The CFPB has also attempted to help consumers understand virtual currencies such as Bitcoin.[39]

List of Directors of the CFPB


      Democratic       Republican

  Special Advisor for the CFPB
No. Portrait Name State of Residence Took Office Left Office President(s)
- Elizabeth Warren Elizabeth Warren Massachusetts September 17, 2010 August 1, 2011 Barack Obama
- Raj Date Raj Date Washington, D.C. August 1, 2011 January 4, 2012
1 Richard Cordray Richard Cordray Ohio January 4, 2012 Incumbent

Legal challenges

A lawsuit filed in June 21, 2012, by a Texan bank along with the Competitive Enterprise Institute, challenged the constitutionality of provisions of the CFPB.[40] One year later, in August 2013, a federal judge dismissed the lawsuit because the plaintiffs had failed to show that they had suffered harm.[41]

A lawsuit filed July 22, 2013, by Morgan Drexen Integrated Systems, a provider of outsourced administrative support services to attorneys, and Connecticut attorney Kimberly A. Pisinski, challenged the constitutionality of the CFPB.[42][43] The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, alleged that the "CFPB's structure insulates it from political accountability and internal checks and balances in violation of the United States Constitution. Unbridled from constitutionally-required accountability, CFPB has engaged in ultra vires and abusive practices, including attempts to regulate the practice of law (a function reserved for state bars), attempts to collect attorney-client protected material, and overreaching demands for, and mining of, personal financial information of American citizens, which has prompted a Government Accountability Office ("GAO") investigation, commenced on July 12, 2013."[44] That October, this case was dismissed by a D.C. Federal Court.[45]

On August 22, 2013, one month after Morgan Drexen's lawsuit, the CFPB filed its own lawsuit against Morgan Drexen in the United States District Court for the Central District of California alleging that Morgan Drexen charged advance fees for debt relief services in violation of the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) and engaged in deceptive acts and practices in violation of the Consumer Financial Protection Act (CFPA)[46]


The CFPB has been heavily criticized for the methodology it uses to identify instances of racial discrimination among auto lenders. Because of legal constraints, the agency used a system to "guess" the race of auto loan applicants based on their last name and zip code. Based on that information, the agency charged several lenders were discriminating against minority applicants and levied large fines and settlements against those companies. Ally Financial paid $98 million in fines and settlement fees in 2013. As the agency's methodology means it can only guess who may be victims of discrimination entitled to settlement funds, the agency has yet to pay any victims in Ally's settlement as of the end of 2015.[47]

The CFPB acknowledged in private documents that it knew the agency was overestimating the number of minority applicants, but continued using the flawed methodology anyway to levy penalties against financial companies.[48]

In 2014, several employees and former employees of the CFPB testified before Congress about the culture of racism and sexism at the agency. Former employees testified they were retaliated against for bringing problems to the attention of superiors.[49]

See also


  1. "The CFPB strategic plan, budget, and performance plan and report" (PDF). United States Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. 2016-02-01. Retrieved 2016-04-22.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "The CFPB strategic plan, budget, and performance plan and report" (PDF). United States Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. 2016-02-01. Retrieved 2016-04-22.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Eaglesham, Jean (2011-02-09). "Warning Shot On Financial Protection". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2011-02-10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>(subscription required)
  4. 4.0 4.1 Warren, Elizabeth (2010-09-14). "FACTBOX-New US consumer financial bureau has wide powers". Reuters. Retrieved 2011-02-10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.0 5.1 Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, Updated: Dec. 8, 2011
  6. "Joint CFPB-State Supervision: No one is below the radar"., November, 2013. External link in |website= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Website Launched and Open for Suggestions". 2011-02-07. Retrieved 2011-02-10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Learn About the Bureau". United States Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Retrieved 2011-02-10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Mogilnicki EJ, Malpass MS. The First Year of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: An Overview. The Business Lawyer.
  10. Kirsch, Larry; Mayer, Robert (2013). Financial justice : the people's campaign to stop lender abuse. Santa Barbara: Praeger. ISBN 1440829519.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Obama names Warren as special adviser. CNN Money.
  12. "President Obama Names Elizabeth Warren Assistant to the President and Special Advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau". Retrieved 17 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Appelbaum, Binyamin (2011-07-17). "Former Ohio Attorney General Picked to Lead Consumer Agency". New York Times. Retrieved 2011-07-17.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Bennett D, Dougherty C. (2011). Elizabeth Warren’s Dream Becomes a Real Agency She May Never Get to Lead. Bloomberg.
  15. Puzzanghera, Jim (September 7, 2011). "GOP stalls confirmation of consumer agency nominee". Los Angeles Times.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. Appelbaum, Binyamin (2011-07-17). "Former Ohio Attorney General Picked to Lead Consumer Agency". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-07-17.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. Wyatt, Edward (2011-07-18). "Dodd-Frank Under Fire a Year Later". New York Times. Retrieved 2011-07-22.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. Shelby, Richard (2011-07-21). "The Danger of an Unaccountable 'Consumer-Protection' Czar". The Wall Street Journal. p. A17. Retrieved 2011-07-22.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>(subscription required)
  19. Epstein, Reid J. (2011-07-21). "Richard Shelby: Richard Cordray is DOA". Politico. Retrieved 2011-07-22.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. Nakamura, David; Sonmez, Felicia (2012-01-04). "Obama to use executive power to name consumer watchdog chief over GOP objections". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2012-01-04.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. Savage, David G. (2013-01-25). "Court rules Obama recess appointments unconstitutional". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2013-05-03.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. Peralta, Eyder (2013-07-16). "Cooling Tensions, Senate Confirms Cordray". NPR. Retrieved 2013-07-19.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. "H.R. 2672 - Summary". United States Congress. Retrieved 4 May 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. Marcos, Cristina (2 May 2014). "The week ahead: House to hold ex-IRS official in contempt". The Hill. Retrieved 5 May 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. "Dodd-Frank Dispatch: "Rural Area" Designation Would Provide Consumer Financial Protection Laws Relief". 17 March 2014. Retrieved 5 May 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  26. "H.R. 3193 - Summary". United States Congress. Retrieved 11 February 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  27. Kasperowicz, Pete (7 February 2014). "House to take another swing at Dodd-Frank reform". The Hill. Retrieved 11 February 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  28. "H.R. 3193 - Consumer Financial Freedom and Washington Accountability Act". Retrieved 17 October 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  29. Lunsford, Patrick (5 March 2015). "CFPB Reform Bill Introduced in House Designed to Pass Congress". Retrieved 17 October 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  30. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Law and Regulation, Mortgage Rule Implementation Regulatory Implementation, retrieved 2014.01.25
  31. Retirement Savings Accounts Draw U.S. Consumer Bureau Attention, Carter Dougherty, Bloomberg News, 18 January 2013
  32. Financial Repression From The Obama Administration: How Savers May Be Forced To Buy Federal Debt, William Tucker,, 23 Dec 2013
  33. 6 Ways the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Will Fight for You, Carole Fleck, AARP, 1 March 2012
  34. (PDF). Center for Insurance Policy Research Missing or empty |title= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  35. "Improving Property and Casualty Regulation in the United States" (PDF). McKinsey and Company.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  36. "Insurance Companies need a Federal Regulator". Wall Street Journal.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  37. Maya Jackson Randall (22 March 2012). "Consumer-protection agency launches 'Ask CFPB' tool". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 7 August 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  38. Liberto, Jennifer (11 April 2012). "Compare College Costs with Online Tool". CNNMoney. Retrieved 8 August 2013.
  39. "Risks to Consumers Posed by Virtual Currencies" (PDF). Consumer Advisory. 2014-08-01. Retrieved 2014-10-06.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  40. Hall, Christine. "Dodd-Frank Unconstitutional Power-Grab, Says New Lawsuit". Competitive Enterprise Institute. Competitive Enterprise Institute.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  41. "Standing Alone, But Firm; Morgan Drexen Presses Forth in Lawsuit Against the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau". GlobeNewswire. 2013-08-02. Retrieved 2014-05-18.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  42. Pollock, Richard (2013-07-23). "Private firm sues CFPB, challenges board's constitutionality". Washington Examiner. Retrieved 2013-08-11.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  43. Karmasek, Jessica M. (2013-08-10). "Conn. attorney, support services provider sue CFPB over alleged 'data mining'". Legal Newsline Legal Journal. Retrieved 2013-08-11.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  44. "Morgan Drexen Filings". Morgan Drexen. Retrieved 2013-08-11.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  45. Mishkin, Barbara S. (2013-10-21). "D.C. federal court dismisses Morgan Drexen lawsuit against CFPB". Retrieved 2014-11-05.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  46. Kaplinsky, Alan (23 Aug 2013). "A tale of two lawsuits: CFPB sues Morgan Drexen". JD Supra Law News. Retrieved 8 Nov 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  47. Andriotis, Annamaria (29 October 2015). "U.S. Government Uses Race Test for $80 Million in Payments". The Wall Street Journal.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  48. Witkowski, Rachel (17 September 2015). "CFPB Overestimates Potential Discrimination, Documents Show". American Banker.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  49. Devaney, Tim (18 June 2014). "Ex-staffer: CFPB run like a 'plantation'". The Hill.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Further reading

External links