Mississippians Report Financial Challenges to Consumer Protection Bureau

September 25th, 2013

HOPE CEO Bill Bynum has authored a Huffington Post blog about the recent CFPB meetings in Mississippi and how the powerful information shared by residents can benefit the bureau’s work.

The article reads in part:

I serve as vice chairman of the CFPB’s Consumer Advisory Board (CAB), and this week the CAB and key bureau staff met in my home state of Mississippi. The reason the CFPB holds meetings at different locations across the country — and away from Washington, DC — is to gain greater insight into the circumstances unique to particular communities, and to spread the word about the bureau’s work.

In small towns from the Mississippi Delta to the southwestern corner of the state, we heard from teachers, students, retired people, business owners, bankers, public officials and ordinary citizens. They spoke about the challenges they face when they try to borrow money to buy a house, to cover emergency medical expenses, attend college or to start a business. A big obstacle, they told us, is the closing of bank branches in small towns and low-income neighborhoods.

One of the most important ways the CFPB can have an impact on this kind of large scale, national problem is to make sure the information is available to assess whether a bank or other financial institution’s actions have a disproportionate affect on vulnerable populations such as senior citizens, students, active or reserve military personnel and underserved communities.

“One of the bedrock principles at the (CFPB) is transparency,” Bureau Director Richard Cordray told people at a public meeting in Itta Bena, Miss. “We have a deep respect for the power that knowledge conveys.”

At Hope Credit Union, where I serve as CEO, we have assisted more than 400,000 people through responsibly structured financial services since 1994. One example is consolidating eight payday loans for a member who had taken out the loans in quick succession, to cover an emergency car repair. A small degree of effort and responsible judgment by any of the eight lenders would have revealed that she could not repay the debt by her next payday. Not surprisingly, it did not take long for rapidly accumulating renewal fees to create an inescapable debt trap.

Fortunately, the CFPB is working hard to understand how these and other abusive financial practices impact lives across the country, and is establishing and enforcing rules that protect every individual equally.

Read the full Huffington Post blog.

Read the release about the CFPB visit and new tools available to consumers.