CFPB candidate Chopra testifies before Senate Banking Committee
On March 2, FTC Commissioner Rohit Chopra testified before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs where he was questioned about his plans if he was confirmed as permanent director of the CFPB. Chopra released prepared remarks in which he discussed the challenges arising from the Covid-19 pandemic, particularly those related to defaults, auto repossessions, credit reports, debt collection and foreclosures. Stressing the need for “fair and effective oversight” of the mortgage market, Chopra also underscored the importance of addressing systemic inequalities faced by families of color. In opening remarks, Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), in support of Chopra’s appointment, highlighted several of Chopra’s past accomplishments at the Bureau as the first Student Loans Ombudsman and noted her “excellent record in protecting consumers and small businesses, promoting competitive markets and holding bad actors accountable.
Chopra answered questions from committee members on a range of topics, including credit reports, student loans, service member coverage and mortgages. Chopra underscored its commitment to improving the “transparency, efficiency and effectiveness” of the Office’s monitoring and enforcement programs. He further underscored the need to tackle lending discrimination and that the fair application of loans will be a priority for the Bureau, noting that the Bureau’s office for Fair Lending and Equal Opportunity “is established. by Congress and  should play a vital role in ensuring that the law is obeyed. Regarding credit reports and debt collection, Chopra said: “[I]if there are gross illegal practices, it is important for law enforcement to ensure that they cease. . . .[T]It’s best for consumers, it’s best for honest market players, and that’s the role Congress has asked CFPB to play.
On FinTech, Chopra said the Bureau needs to “carefully consider” the expansion of large tech companies in financial services and their potential impact on consumer privacy and data security. He also raised concerns about the potential for bias in decision-making and underwriting algorithms. “[L]looking at how big data, especially by big platforms that have detailed behavioral data on all of us, is something we need to take a close look at. Because it will fundamentally change financial services, ”said Chopra. He also discussed the importance of providing restitution to consumers, reaffirming his commitment to ensuring that companies found guilty of breaking the law are held to reimburse consumers for what has been taken. “[W]hen victims of fraud and misconduct are not cured, it does not only hurt them. It also hurts all other businesses that try to follow the law and deal with them.  the right way, ”Chopra said.
If confirmed by the Senate Banking Committee, Chopra’s nomination will go to the entire Senate for a vote.