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BCFP May End ‘Proactive Oversight’ of Military Lenders

Senate Democrats recently asked the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (BCFP) to reconsider its plans to discontinue its routine checks for violations of the Military Lending Act after an article by the New York Times reported that the agency was planning to suspend these routine checks.

The Military Lending Act (MLA) was passed in 2006 and is aimed at preventing active-duty military members and their families from falling victim to predatory lending, financial fraud, and credit gouging.

“The Trump administration is planning to suspend routine examinations of lenders for violations of the Military Lending Act,” the New York Times reported, adding that “Mick Mulvaney, the interim director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, intends to scrap the use of so-called supervisory examinations of lenders.”

According to the Times, Mulvaney said the “proactive oversight is not explicitly laid out in the legislation.”

Public radio station, NPR, recently reported that the BCFP was planning to ask the Congress to give it express permission to do this active monitoring of lenders' MLA compliance if that is what lawmakers intended. "That's according to a draft document circulating within the bureau obtained by NPR," the public radio station said. "It is unclear if Congress would do that to spur the CFPB to return to its previous level of enforcement."

In a statement to NPR, the bureau said that any changes to the MLA would be made "only if necessary and in a way that does not reduce the MLA protections afforded Service members and their families."

Instead of the current method of “proactive oversight,” the BCFP will rely on consumer complaints to identify and deal with violations of the Military Lending Act.

Senate Democrats responded with a letter on Wednesday, signed by all 49 members. “The CFPB should not be abandoning its duty to protect our servicemembers and their families, and we seek your commitment that you will utilize all of the authorities available to the CFPB to ensure that servicemembers and their families continue to receive all of their MLA protections,” the Senators wrote.

“In addition, for our service members, especially those who are deployed overseas facing hostile fire, it is unreasonable to place the burden of detecting and reporting MLA abuses on servicemembers, especially when they should be given every opportunity to focus squarely on their missions,” they said.

The BCFP has returned $130 million to service members, veterans, and their families and received more than 72,000 complaints each year since the bureau’s founding in 2011.

About Author: Krista Franks Brock

Krista Franks Brock is a professional writer and editor who has covered the mortgage banking and default servicing sectors since 2011. Previously, she served as managing editor of DS News and Southern Distinction, a regional lifestyle publication. Her work has appeared in a variety of print and online publications, including Consumers Digest, Dallas Style and Design, DS News and DSNews.com, MReport and theMReport.com. She holds degrees in journalism and art from the University of Georgia.
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