May 28, 2013 |
Federal regulators are widening an investigation into whether the nation's biggest banks used flawed documents and incomplete records to collect on delinquent credit card debts, according to four people familiar with the probe. The scope of the inquiry is unclear, but those familiar with it say the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency is expanding a probe that began in 2011 with allegations that JPMorgan Chase was using error-filled documents in lawsuits against debtors. The regulatory agency is examining the process several banks use to verify consumers' outstanding debt before taking legal action, according to several people familiar with the matter who were not authorized to speak about an ongoing investigation.
May 17, 2011 |
One of the most daunting tasks facing the new federal agency charged with protecting Americans' wallets is also the most basic: answering complaints from consumers. After it opens for business this summer, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will begin to take over many of the tens of thousands of phone calls, e-mails and letters that flood government regulators each week on topics such as aggressive debt collection and credit card interest rates. The system it designs to handle it all — from the time it takes to answer a call to the information it publishes — will help shape the way Americans view the fledging agency.
January 24, 2013 |
President Obama on Thursday re-nominated Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, all but assuring a fight with Senate Republicans who oppose the agency's sweeping powers to regulate the financial services industry. Cordray, 53, took the helm of the consumer agency in late 2011 through a recess appointment . His term expires at the end of the year unless he wins approval. But Senate staffers say Obama's end run has poisoned the waters for Cordray.
May 12, 2011 |
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke warned lawmakers Thursday that they are risking grave consequences by continuing their game of chicken over the nation's legal limit on government borrowing. "I think using the debt limit as a bargaining chip is quite risky," Bernanke said at a Senate Banking Committee hearing, adding that failure to raise the limit in the coming days could cause a spike in interest rates and severe instability in the financial markets. Republican leaders have vowed not to raise the debt ceiling unless it is done along with significant cuts in federal spending.
July 10, 2011 |
When Congress passed the Dodd-Frank Act — hailed as the most sweeping financial reform measure in decades — last July the former chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission dubbed it the "Lawyers' and Consultants' Full Employment Act of 2010," predicting an avalanche of new work for consultants and attorneys tasked with helping financial institutions navigate new regulations. Among Washington law firms with a focus on the financial services sector, this forecast has proved true.
March 27, 2012 |
Survey after survey continues to conclude that consumers don't have a good grasp of personal finance issues. There are good intentions behind these surveys. Their purpose is to find out how to create financial literacy programs to help people understand the importance of saving and investing, the devastating results of taking on too much debt, and how to avoid becoming a victim of fraud. In fact, April has been designated as National Financial Literacy Month. Last year, in a proclamation about setting some time aside to learn more about your finances, President Obama said: "As we recover from the worst economic crisis in generations, it is more important than ever to be knowledgeable about the consequences of our financial decisions.
February 25, 2012 |
Bank overdraft fees drive me crazy. It's just wasted money. Sure, overdraft protection is a good backup for the times you miscalculate, but sometimes the fees run into the hundreds of dollars a month and are the most burdensome on the people least able to afford them. Well, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau intends to do something about this. The bureau is investigating banks' overdraft practices and their effect on consumers' finances. If you have overdraft protection, your financial institution will cover the transaction so your check won't bounce — but it will charge you a fee. The average overdraft fee ranged from $30 to $35 in 2011 and has increased 17 percent over the past five years, according to CFPB.
May 23, 2011 |
Here's what we should've learned from the events of the past decade: Murphy was right. What can go wrong, will go wrong — and we need to plan accordingly. Because terrorist attacks? They happen. Credit bubbles? They burst. Underregulated Wall Street banks? They fail. Poorly designed offshore drilling platforms? They explode. Overleveraged European economies? They can't pay their debts. Broken-down levees in hurricane country? They breach. But we haven't learned our lesson. Forget preparing for the "black swans," investor Nassim Taleb's name for the unpredictable crises that disrupt and damage our lives.
April 8, 2012 |
An expansion of workers' rights in the areas of wage and hour and whistleblower protections could mean trouble for Washington area employers who choose to ignore them. More stringent penalties can now be imposed for employers who miscategorize employees as independent contractors. And new provisions in another law provide more protections to individuals who blow the whistle in the workplace. Over the last year, the Labor Department and states have identified more and more instances of employers miscategorizing workers as independent contractors.
January 5, 2012 |
Newly installed Consumer Financial Protection Bureau director Richard Cordray laid out his agenda Thursday, vowing to press ahead despite political objections and legal questions about his status as a recess appointee. "It's a valid appointment. I'm now the director of the bureau. . . . We now have our full authority to move forward," Cordray said in his first public speech as the agency's director, a day after President Obama used a recess appointment to bypass Republicans who had blocked Cordray's confirmation in the Senate.