New Oversight for Nonbanks
August 14, 2011
Financial woes resulting from the practices of nonbank financial institutions have long plagued consumers but have been out of the reach of most federal and state regulatory agencies. There is good news for consumers who once saw their only course of action as contacting lawyer; it comes in the form of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The agency has begun implementing various parts of the Dodd-Frank financial legislation and is considering whether to begin supervising credit reporting, debt collection, the prepaid-card industry, loan servicers, check cashers, debt-relief services, money transmitters, and other nonbank financial services. Many of these nonbank entities shouldered much of the blame for the housing bubble and the 2008 financial crisis it spurred, necessitating new oversight. To prevent a repeat of the events that lead to the Great Recession, Congress created the bureau and instructed it to extend the kind of oversight already directed at banks to nonbanks -- specifically to payday lenders, mortgage lenders, and private education lenders, but also to other "larger participants" in the financial markets. The bureau is hoping to level the playing field, and it will work to address the various pitfalls that plague the financial system. The key to its power is the authority it has to supervise and examine a nonbank financial institution, which will make the bureau much better suited to understand how the institution functions and determine what kind of consumer protection is needed. The CFPB has promised to make consumer protection a priority.
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