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New Englanders Voice Concerns about Future of Consumer Agency

As New England supporters held a 6th birthday party for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in Boston, the agency's future is in jeopardy in Congress. (MASSPIRG)
As New England supporters held a 6th birthday party for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in Boston, the agency's future is in jeopardy in Congress. (MASSPIRG)
July 24, 2017

NASHUA, N.H. — The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau turned six years old on Friday, and along with a birthday cake, New Englanders are getting a warning that could affect tens of thousands of Bay State consumers.

Janet Domenitz, executive director at the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group - or MASSPIRG - said people who are taken advantage of by credit card companies, mortgage lenders and debt collectors all have benefited from having a strong federal agency on their side since the CFPB was created.

"And in that short amount of time, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has returned nearly $12 billion to 29 million consumers that were cheated by illegal practices,” Domenitz said.

According to the CFPB, since its inception in 2011, the agency has handled just under 5,000 complaints from people in New Hampshire, including almost 300 from local military service members. The Trump administration wants to reduce funding for the agency as part of scaling back what it sees as excessive regulations harmful to business.

Domenitz described the halls of Congress as crawling with Wall Street lobbyists who are dead-set on killing the bureau.

"The shot was already fired in the House of Representatives,” she said. "They passed the Financial Choice Act, which basically repeals the bureau's independence and eliminates most of its tools for protecting consumers."

Domenitz said 33 percent of the complaints handled for Granite Staters since 2011 involved mortgages, another 24 percent dealt with debt collection disputes.

The next stop for the Financial Choice Act is the U.S. Senate.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NH