The government’s top consumer advocate told Yahoo News in an exclusive interview Thursday his agency must battle fraud and abuse — but warned that Americans can’t rely only on government to protect them.
“If I default on my loan, and go into foreclosure and lose my house, and then I ruin my credit and I can’t live a good financial life for 5-10 years — you know, that’s on me,” Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray told Yahoo News.
“So what we want is we want to ... empower consumers to [be] better able to protect themselves — they shouldn’t rely entirely on a federal agency in Washington, they should rely on themselves in the first instance,” Cordray said.
Cordray and the CFPB have taken fire from Wall Street and its allies in Congress, some of whom argue that new rules meant to protect Americans actually will make it harder for them to get a mortgage, or a credit card.
“Each of us needs to try to learn what we need to know, make good decisions. We’re going to have to live with those decisions. Nobody else is, we are,” Cordray said.
But “I think [the CFPB has] a job to do to protect consumers in the marketplace,” he said. “There are a lot of things that confuse consumers, that got them to make bad decisions — it’d be better if they hadn’t made the bad decisions but there’s a lot of things that are borderline or actual fraud and abuse out there.”
“There’s good work for us to do to make that market safer, to make the choices clearer and simpler for people, so they can access them and really make good decisions they can live with for their whole lives,” Cordray said.
So if someone started a business selling individual shiny quarters for a dollar, would CFPB get involved? Or is there some threshold below which the fool and his money get parted and its none of the agency’s business?
“I think we might have to consider enforcing against that,” he said.