Acting bureau director voices aggressive tone

(Feb. 12, 2021) The CFPB is voicing a more aggressive tone under the leadership of Acting Director Dave Uejio, as evidenced by two initiatives he announced this week.

Uejio is serving in the acting role after former Director Kathleen Kraninger resigned Jan. 20 (at the request of the incoming Biden administration), and as Rohit Chopra, President Joe Biden’s pick to be bureau director for a five-year term, awaits Senate confirmation.

First, Uejio announced that it is searching to build out its stable of attorneys “at all experience levels” in multiple agency functions. The recruiting effort, according to Uejio, is aimed at assisting the agency to achieve “vigorous oversight of all applicable federal laws and the fullest utilization of our legal authorities”

In a blog post, he said Americans’ financial lives “have suffered tremendously as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the associated economic dislocation, and ongoing racial inequity.”

The CFPB was created for moments like this,” he wrote.

We must hold accountable companies that break the law and harm American consumers and small businesses during this time of incredible financial stress,” the agency acting director stated. “To do this, we need the fullest talents and passion of the American public. The Bureau has one of the most remarkable workforces I have ever seen, and I invite you to seize the moment and join us.”

Second, and later in the week, Uejio announced that the bureau’s division of consumer education should “redouble its efforts to ensure the Bureau engages all consumers who are economically suffering,” a change in strategic direction for the unit. He also signaled a more vigorous response from the agency on consumer complaints, especially those submitted by minority communities.

In a letter to bureau staff, he pointedly noted that consumer complaints – particularly those submitted by “Black, Brown and Indigenous communities” – “get the response and the relief that they deserve.”

I understand that some companies have been lax in meeting their obligation to respond to complaints,” Uejio wrote. “It is the Bureau’s expectation that companies provide substantive responses that address the issues consumers describe in their complaints.

I also understand that consumer advocates have found disparities in some companies’ responses to Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities,” Uejio continued. “This is unacceptable. I have asked Consumer Response (the unit in the agency that follows consumer complaints) to prepare a report highlighting the companies with a poor track record on these issues. We will be publishing this analysis and the senior leadership of these companies can expect to be hearing from me,” he wrote.

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Consumers and their experiences to be at the foundation of CFPB policymaking