The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), created by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which does not have official authority until the designated transfer date, July 21, 2011, has launched its Web site at http://www.consumerfinance.gov/.
The home page prominently displays a badge logo, which clearly sends the message that there is a new "cop on the beat."
The Web site introduces the CFPB via a video that describes the agency’s overall function as being “a single entity that has the authority to make sure that consumer financial markets work for all of us, not just the big guys.” The site seeks suggestions on how the CFPB should function and encourages users to post their suggestions through the Web site, as well as in video form on the CFPB’s YouTube channel. Within hours of its site going live, the CFPB posted a YouTube video responding to a suggestion made through the Web site and featuring Richard Cordray, the head of the CFPB’s enforcement arm.
The Web site contains information about the CFPB’s structure, including an organizational chart, dated January 26, 2011. The chart differs significantly from the one appended to a letter that Professor Elizabeth Warren, head of the CFPB implementation team, sent to Representative Randy Neugebauer (R-TX) on January 31, 2011. On the Web site, the CFPB enforcement arm is broken into specific product areas, mirroring the structure of the CFPB research arm. In this chart, both the research and enforcement arms will have sections focused on: Fair Lending, Large Bank Supervision, Credit and Prepaid Markets, Mortgage and Home Equity Markets, Installment Lending Markets, Deposit and Payment Markets, and Credit Information Markets.
In comparison, the organizational chart Ms. Warren sent to Representative Neugebauer shows the enforcement arm consisting of only Fair Lending, Large Bank Supervision, Non-Bank Supervision, and Enforcement. At minimum, such disparity shows that there is still great flux in determining how best to execute CFPB’s mission.
The Web site includes the following statement by Peggy Twohig, formerly with the Federal Trade Commission, who is listed as the Non-Bank Supervision Team Lead. She describes her team’s focus:
Many companies other than banks provide consumer financial products and services. These Bon-Bank companies include mortgage lenders, mortgage servicers, student lenders, payday lenders, credit bureaus, and debt collectors. Non-Bank financial companies can have a huge impact on consumers, but, unlike banks, they have not been subject to regular Federal reviews to make sure they play by the rules. My team is planning a new Federal supervision program to oversee these companies. When banks and Non-Bank companies are subject to similar Federal oversight, consumers across the entire marketplace will be better protected.
Although the CFPB is not yet entertaining complaints from consumers, the Web site contains a feature which directs consumers to the appropriate federal and/or state agency.