Again demonstrating that he does not intend to merely be a caretaker for the CFPB’s next Director, Acting Director Uejio has publicly shared his statement to the Bureau’s Division of Consumer Education and External Affairs (CEEA) in which he directs Consumer Response to prepare a report highlighting the companies with a poor track record in responding to consumer complaints. The publication of Mr. Uejio’s statement to CEEA follows the publication of his statements to the Bureau’s Division of Supervision, Enforcement, and Fair Lending and Division of Research, Markets, and Regulations.
In his statement to CEEA, Mr. Uejio indicated that “making sure that consumers who submit complaints to us get the response and the relief they deserve” is one of his top priorities. He raised the concern that “some companies have been lax in meeting their obligation to respond to complaints” and commented that “[i]t is the Bureau’s expectation that companies provide substantive responses that address the issues consumers describe in their complaints.” He also raised concern about “disparities in some companies’ responses to Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities” found by consumer advocates. (He did not identify those consumer advocates.) Mr. Uejio stated that he has asked Consumer Response “to prepare a report highlighting the companies with a poor track record on these issues” and indicated that the Bureau will publish this analysis and that “senior leadership of these companies can expect to be hearing from me.”
Mr. Uejio’s statement also raised the specter that the CFPB could place increasing reliance on unverified, anecdotal information in consumer complaints. He commented that “[t]he Bureau must transition from treating consumer input as mere anecdotes or stories to a world in which the experience of our neighbors, our families, and our communities serve as crucial data that drives our policymaking.”
Mr. Uejio also listed the following steps that he has asked CEEA to take “[t]o help consumers navigate the housing protections for those affected by COVID”:
- Target Bureau resources to reach and help struggling homeowners in delinquency or at risk of foreclosure and renters at risk of eviction to ensure they know their rights.
- Ramp up our coordination efforts with other agencies to provide help and information to at-risk homeowners and renters.
- Collaborate with coalitions of stakeholders, including consumer advocates, civil rights groups, grassroots, community-based organizations, and individual consumers to get these messages to homeowners in languages and terminology they understand.
- Help ensure homeowners and renters can access HUD-approved housing counseling organizations to help them manage the challenges they face due to financial hardships brought on by COVID.
He indicated that he has also directed CEEA to:
- Lead a refresh of the Bureau’s website “so it is more user friendly, focused on consumers rights, and signals that in no uncertain terms, we are on their side.”
- Expand the Bureau’s social media presence.
- Aggressively rebuild and repair the Bureau’s relationships with consumer, civil rights, racial justice, and tribal and Indigenous rights groups.