There are days in Washington that I want to tear my hair out. Days when I’m so frustrated over how hard it is to get anything done that I just want to spit.
But then I’m reminded that the work we do together makes a real difference.
Six years ago this week, President Obama signed Dodd-Frank, the Wall Street reform bill that was a powerful step towards holding the big banks accountable. Now don’t get me wrong, Dodd-Frank wasn’t perfect – we still have more work to do to make sure the big banks don’t bring down our economy again.
But one thing we definitely got right was the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: a new government agency solely dedicated to making sure Wall Street can’t cheat people in the fine print of mortgages, credit cards, student loans, and other financial products.
The financial industry HATED the idea of the CFPB. It spent more than a million dollars a day lobbying against Wall Street reform. But we fought back and won – and this week we celebrate the five-year anniversary of that little agency opening its doors.
Here’s a story that a man named Navid posted on the CFPB website.
My name is Navid. I live in Washington, DC.
Me and my wife we decided to buy a home last year. We found an agent, we found a mortgage company. We started working with them. Initially, they wanted us to put $12,000 down as a contingency fee and all of this was very new to us, and we agreed to it. What we didn’t know, was that, this contract was written in a way that if we don’t get our loan approved within 15 days, we have the possibility of losing this money.
Just a few days prior to closing, we were informed that this loan was not going to go through.
We, in a very short period of time, lost $12,000.
So I was in touch the lender and also the lender’s supervisor several times. I have sent several e-mails, I have sent several emails, I have made several phone calls, and they were always ignored completely. They either, I would leave a message and never hear back were or I didn’t even have a chance to leave a message for anyone. And none of my e-mails were answered appropriately.
Two weeks passed by and one night and we were sitting and watching the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. And the Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was a guest of Mr. Jon Stewart that night and he talked about this organization and what they do.
So I looked at my wife and said I think we should go ahead and complain – and see what happens.
And that single night after the show was over; I filed the complaint online, and to the official website. The next day, I got a response from the CFPB that we have got your complaint, and we’re gonna work through it.
I came home, 5 days after and I had a package in my mailbox. I opened it up, it was a formal apology letter from the mortgage company, with a check for $12,750. They paid for the inspection and appraisal fee that I have lost in the process and I didn’t ask for. They very formally apologized for what had happened. We were so surprised that we could have never thought this was going to happen.
I think it feels great, I’m an immigrant, and I came to the United States because this is a country where there are rules and regulations and it says the government is for the people.
This is why I chose this country, this country is probably the best place to live – on Earth.
And it’s just a wonderful feeling to know that there are parts of the United States government that are actually…their job is just to reach out to people and help them. It’s a wonderful feeling.
Navid’s story isn’t the only CFPB success story. To date, the CFPB has forced the big banks to return $11.7 billion directly to more than 27 million consumers who have been cheated.
There are lots more stories on the CFPB website. If you get a chance, take a look. These stories are starting — emphasize starting — to level the playing field between financial institutions and their customers.
This is what we built — together. When I read these stories, I think Navid is right: Making government work for us is a great feeling.