This is a weekly personal-finance column provided by the website
Ten years ago, bullies had taken over the playground. Financial service firms preyed on their customers with impunity:
--Lenders made expensive, risky mortgages to people who couldn't afford to pay the money back.
--Credit card issuers foisted overpriced insurance and other add-on products on millions of unsuspecting customers.
--Credit bureaus ignored evidence submitted by people disputing errors in their credit reports.
--Companies sold delinquent debts to collection agencies that ran amok, violating fair debt collection laws and strong-arming people into repaying debts they didn't even owe.
People's complaints fell on deaf ears, since consumer protection wasn't a priority at any agency. Huge swaths of the credit and debt industries, including credit bureaus, collection agencies and payday lenders, operated with little government oversight.
Created by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act that President-elect
A SYSTEM RIGGED AGAINST THE CONSUMER
Financial companies fear and loathe the
--Created rules requiring lenders to consider people's ability to repay a mortgage and curbed their ability to make the risky loans, such as interest-only or negative amortization loans, that set off the financial crisis.
--Ordered lenders that were illegally overcharging service members to refund millions of dollars to their military borrowers.
--Forced multiple credit card issuers -- including
--Got the three main credit bureaus to finally update their dispute-processing software so that documents submitted by consumers, such as account statements or receipts, could be forwarded to companies reporting incorrect information.
--Took steps to rein in the debt collection industry, including fining Chase
PROFIT, BUT HONEST PROFIT
It's no wonder the financial services industry is bent on destroying or at least defanging the bureau. It's not just the billions of dollars they've paid out in fines and restitution. The industry would like to pretend the abuses that led to the Great Recession either didn't happen or couldn't happen again. It claims the agency is meddling unnecessarily in its business and thwarting the free market system.
In fact, it was the financial services companies that did their best to thwart the basic tenets of capitalism. Instead of competing based on quality and price, they larded contracts and service agreements with hidden "gotcha" clauses to increase revenue. They lied to customers about what products really cost and signed people up for services they didn't want. They offered incentives for mortgage lenders and brokers to steer unwitting customers into high-cost loans when the borrowers qualified for safer, low-cost loans.
Just after the
And that's why the
This column was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website
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