During this challenging time for our nation and the world, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (or CFPB) is diligently working to protect consumers in the financial services marketplace and providing Americans with much needed peace of mind.
We have several efforts underway that I want to highlight.
First, as has been mentioned by many of my colleagues thus far, we have joined together to provide guidance to financial institutions, lenders, and creditors encouraging them to work constructively with borrowers and customers affected by COVID-19. I applaud the many financial institutions who have been actively assessing their capabilities and publicly taking steps consistent with our guidance. Institutions want to help their customers navigate uncertainty. As such, I recommend that consumers who may be facing financial difficulty contact their financial institutions to discuss their specific circumstances. As a backstop, the CFPB stands ready to help consumers resolve issues with their financial services providers through our consumer complaint system.
Second, the CFPB has actively engaged with regulated entities, consumer advocates, State partners, and other stakeholders to ensure we are providing appropriate flexibilities to benefit consumers during this time. We recognize that many institutions are facing operational challenges due to COVID-19, and the priority must be responding to consumers facing nearer term issues. As such, the CFPB has announced today temporary and targeted regulatory flexibility, for example delaying reporting requirements, that will facilitate help to consumers. We will continue to provide further relief as needed to ensure that resources can be focused on consumers.
Third, the CFPB launched a dedicated page on our website for all COVID-19 resources to help consumers protect their finances. There are a number of steps they can take to help themselves and their loved ones, both in the short and long term. The information outlines steps to take, such as in the following situations: (1) if consumers have trouble paying their bills or meeting other financial obligations; (2) if consumers experience a loss of income; and (3) if consumers think they may be targeted by a scammer. We are regularly updating our resources – particularly to ensure we get the best information out to support vulnerable populations such as older Americans. Social isolation is already an issue for older adults and can lead to a host of challenges, including an increased likelihood of falling for scams due to a need to connect to others. With appropriate public health directives such as social distancing and quarantines, this information is even more critical to help older adults, family caregivers and others recognize and avoid such scams.
I encourage consumers to visit consumerfinance.gov – I also ask the media to highlight the important information available on our website.
In closing, let me recognize the dedicated CFPB staff who continue to carry out our important mission while juggling dramatic changes to our daily lives. I thank them and all of my fellow public servants, including first responders, across the nation. We will overcome this pandemic together.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is a 21st century agency that helps consumer finance markets work by making rules more effective, by consistently and fairly enforcing those rules, and by empowering consumers to take more control over their economic lives. For more information, visit www.consumerfinance.gov.