The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has recorded record-high numbers of complaints every month since the pandemic hit in mid-March, according to a press release from the U.S. PIRG Education Fund.
However, according to an analysis from the PIRG Fund released Friday (July 17), the CFPB has shirked its duty somewhat during the pandemic by weakening protections against predatory payday lenders.
“The CFPB was off to a good start after the last economic crisis,” said Mike Litt, U.S. PIRG Education Fund’s consumer campaign director, according to the release. “But it's looked the other way during the current one.”
CFPB complaints during the pandemic are up 50 percent compared to the same time last year, March to June 2019.
“Ten years ago on July 21, after the Wall Street-induced financial crisis, the CFPB was created to protect consumers,” said Ed Mierzwinski, senior director of federal consumer program for U.S. PIRG Education Fund, according to the release. “Now, in a pandemic-fueled financial crisis, strapped consumers need the CFPB to take powerful action to rein in unscrupulous financial practices.”
According to the release, the pandemic has been mentioned in one out of every five complaints that has to do with mortgages, student loans or vehicle financing since March 1.
Frontier Group's Gideon Weissman, who co-authored the analysis, said the surge in complaints showed how dire the situation is concerning fraud.
"The Consumer Complaint Database has long been an early warning system for emerging problems in the financial marketplace, and it has never been more valuable than now — when many Americans need more help than ever before," he said, according to the release.
In related news, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reported that its top complaint has been fraud, according to a PYMNTS report. There were over 47,000 fraud complaints from March through June, alongside over 14,000 identity theft complaints and nearly 4,000 Do Not Call complaints.