Acting director plans to scale back consumer protection agency’s power

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The Trump administration is likely to end public access to a web portal used by hundreds of thousands of consumers each year to file complaints against financial companies.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s acting director, Mick Mulvaney, told attendees at the American Bankers Association conference he would eliminate public access to the complaint database, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Since being named acting director, Mulvaney has frozen all new investigations and slowed existing inquiries by requiring employees to produce detailed justifications, according to The New York Times.

He sharply restricted the bureau’s access to bank data, arguing that its investigations created online security risks.

He also has scaled back efforts to go after payday lenders, auto lenders and other financial services companies accused of preying on the vulnerable, the newspaper reported.

Mulvaney specifically vowed to stop the agency’s actions against indirect auto dealers, according to the Credit Union Journal.

Marine dealers were concerned that they would be targeted by the CPFB after the bureau began investigating auto dealers for what it said were unfair lending practices. Though never singled out, marine dealers often complained that compliance with new rules was burdensome and expensive.

Mulvaney said the bureau would continue to maintain a toll-free number and a website to gather consumer complaints and forward them to companies, but the database would be hidden from public view, The WSJ reported.

Mulvaney told 1,300 banking and lending industry officials on Tuesday that they should press lawmakers to pursue their agenda of weakening the bureau, and told them he only met with lobbyists if they contributed to his campaign, The New York Times reported.

Mulvaney said he has started referring to the regulator as the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, its formal name stipulated in Dodd-Frank. On its website, the agency still calls itself the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.