The CFPB, which has regularly reached out to consumers online through its blog posts and its consumer complaint portal, is also seeking consumer input the old-fashioned way – in person. On October 26, Raj Date, Special Advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury for the CFPB, who previously spoke with consumers in Philadelphia, will be headed to Minneapolis, Minnesota to discuss the Bureau’s upcoming initiatives directly with consumers. The Bureau has plans on holding more events aimed at consumers throughout the country in the upcoming months.
Unlike Mr. Date’s previous speaking engagement in Philadelphia, the Minneapolis town hall event is specifically billed as a forum where members of the community can share their experiences with the consumer credit industry, and specifically with respect to student loans, credit cards, and mortgage loans. The spotlight on these particular consumer financial products should come as no surprise if you have been following the Bureau’s online complaint process, which has been accepting credit card complaints from consumers since the summer and will be expanded to include complaints on mortgages and student loans.
The town hall’s original location, at the Minnesota Community and Technical College, and the forum’s emphasis on student loans, also point to the Bureau’s renewed focus on student lending concerns. In his remarks at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia on September 15, 2011, Mr. Date asserted the Bureau’s goal in making sure that “education finance truly helps students obtain opportunities they otherwise could not” and stated that the CFPB is looking into lenders offering loans when students did not have a realistic chance of repaying them, in particular high-cost private loans provided by for-profit colleges. The lending practices of for-profit colleges also have been an important talking point recently for Hollister Petraeus, the Assistant Director for Service Member Affairs at the CFPB; if the issue comes up at the town hall, expect to see some mention of the Bureau’s concern that for-profit colleges are taking advantage of military members to obtain G.I. benefits from the government.
At least one commenter on the Bureau’s blog expressed an interest that members of the banking community be included in the event. While industry representatives do not appear to have been officially asked to participate in the discussions, the town hall is open to the public.
The event will be held on Wednesday, October 26 at 6:30 pm in the Minneapolis Central Library, located in Pohlad Hall at 300 Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The event will also be live streamed on the CFPB’s website.