The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has received a record number of consumer complaints during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Director Kathleen Kraninger. During a House Financial Services Committee hearing Thursday, she reported that the Bureau has fielded more than 14,000 complaints over the past few months that were specifically related to the coronavirus.
During the hearing, Director Kraninger received a mix of praise and criticism for the Bureau’s actions during the pandemic.
Chairwoman Maxine Waters said the CFPB “has done next to nothing” about the record number of complaints, which included those regarding wait times, inconsistent information, and lack of follow-up from financial institutions.
Waters alleged that Kraninger has worked toward relaxing enforcement, undermining qualified mortgage standards, and weakening the reporting requirements for the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA).
However, Rep. Patrick McHenry countered that the Bureau “has worked diligently to provide resources, guidance, and protection for consumers most at risk during these unsettling times.”
He stated that the Bureau has encouraged financial institutions to work with borrowers at risk during the pandemic and has clarified mortgage servicers’ role and responsibility in the forbearance plans created under the CARES Act.
The CFPB, along with other federal entities, launched a mortgage and housing assistance website in April to inform people about how to protect their finances during the pandemic. The CFPB has created more than 70 blogs and videos to inform consumers about their rights and available assistance during the pandemic. More than 3 million users have viewed these resources, according to Kraninger.
Additionally, Kraninger said the Bureau is currently reviewing hundreds of financial institutions to ensure they are following the CARES Act as well as other financial regulations, and that they are working with consumers during this financial crisis.
In addition to its COVID-19 response, over the past few months the CFPB has issued advanced notices of proposed rulemaking regarding the HMDA, the Ability-to-Repay, and the Qualified Mortgage Rules, Kraninger noted. The Bureau has also proposed changes to the higher-priced mortgage loan escrow exemption and is working on an assessment of the Truth in Lending Act and Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (TRID).
For example, the CFPB is accepting input on whether to extend the GSE patch, which allows mortgages that are eligible for GSE purchase to count as Qualified Mortgages. The GSE Patch is set to expire in January.
Kraninger’s testimony comes about a month after the Supreme Court ruled the CFPB’s structure unconstitutional, following an ongoing debate since the bureau’s inception, that the director is given too much power.
Kraninger said she agrees with the outcome and stated during the hearing Thursday that, while the decision for a new structure is in the hands of Congress, she is ready to comply.