Consumer watchdog has been aggressive.
WASHINGTON — The new federal agency charged with enforcing consumer-finance laws is emerging as an ambitious sheriff, taking on companies for deceptive fees and marketing and unmoved by protests that its tactics go too far.
In the 14 months it has existed, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has launched dozens of enforcement probes and issued more than 100 subpoenas demanding data, testimony and marketing materials — sometimes amounting to millions of pages — from companies that include credit-card lenders, for-profit colleges and mortgage servicers.
More than two dozen interviews with agency officials and industry executives offered sweeping insight into the new agency’s behind-the-scenes efforts, which have caught the financial industry off guard and have been far more aggressive than previously known.
The number of subpoenas and probes was confirmed by agency, industry and trade-group officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because the subpoenas bar both sides from discussing them.
The bureau’s actions have many banks, payday lenders and credit-card companies racing to adjust. They’re tightening their record-keeping and budgeting for defense attorneys, according to lawyers and trade-group executives who work with them. The companies are reluctant to discuss the bureau because they don’t want to be seen as criticizing a regulator that is still choosing its battles.
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MODESTO — Authorities should have done more to protect a locksmith from a distraught, armed homeowner who gunned down the man and a deputy sheriff, the locksmith’s widow says in a wrongful death claim against Stanislaus County.
Before they tried to carry out the April eviction, deputies were warned that the homeowner had weapons, the claim says, contradicting Sheriff Adam Christianson’s statements since that the men walked into an ambush with no idea that danger lurked inside.
Also, locksmith Glendon Engert paused while disabling the lock on a metal security door when he heard something inside, but deputies directed him to keep drilling, the claim says.
“Mr. Engert was lulled into a false sense of security,” the document reads.
Moments later, Engert, 35, and deputy Bob Paris, 53, were killed by armor-piercing bullets from an assault rifle fired through the screen door. Deputy Mike Glinskas, 51, was not hit and was honored for bravery last month.
Here is the claim.
The letters are sent by the thousands to people across the country who have written bad checks, threatening them with jail if they do not pay up.
They bear the seal and signature of the local district attorney’s office. But there is a catch: the letters are from debt-collection companies, which the prosecutors allow to use their letterhead. In return, the companies try to collect not only the unpaid check, but also high fees from debtors for a class on budgeting and financial responsibility, some of which goes back to the district attorneys’ offices.
The practice, which has spread to more than 300 district attorneys’ offices in recent years, shocked Angela Yartz when she was threatened with conviction over a $47.95 check to Walmart. A single mother in San Mateo, Calif., Ms. Yartz said she learned the check had bounced only when she opened a letter in February, signed by the Alameda County district attorney, informing her that unless she paid $280.05 — including $180 for a “financial accountability” class — she could be jailed for up to one year.
California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom is asking the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate whether the finance industry has illegally colluded in opposing a proposal to acquire mortgages though eminent domain in San Bernardino County.
In letter Monday, Sept. 10, Newsom urged U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to have the anti-trust division look into whether the finance and mortgage industry may be seeking to retaliate against the county by making it harder for residents to get approval for loans.
But proponents of San Bernardino County’s plan say the bill is political
posturing from a congressman with ties to the financial services industry |