SE­NIORS CHAMPS AT CON­SUMER COM­PLAINTS

The Palm Beach Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Charles El­more Palm Beach Post Staff Writer cel­more@pbpost.com Twit­ter: @El­morepbp

Prob­lems with home-fi­nance deals in­clud­ing re­verse mort­gages, threats from col­lec­tors on debt in­clud­ing health charges, and mis­takes on credit re­ports rank among the top com­plaints from con­sumers 62 and older to a fed­eral agency tak­ing heat in Congress, a new re­port out Thurs­day says.

Florida’s older res­i­dents have filed more than 8,400 com­plaints to the Con­sumer Fi­nan­cial Pro­tec­tion Bu­reau, sec­ond only to al­most 11,000 from Cal­i­for­nia se­niors, ac­cord­ing to the U.S. Pub­lic In­ter­est Re­search Group, a group that ad­vo­cates for con­sumer pro­tec­tions.

The CFPB, cre­ated in 2011, has taken con­tro­ver­sial ac­tion against com­pa­nies in­clud­ing a record $100 mil­lion fine against bank Wells Fargo for gin­ning up phony ac­counts and fees. That has an­gered some big industry play­ers who say the Obama-era agency has gone too far. They want a Repub­li­can-led Congress to clip its wings. Texas Repub­li­can Rep. Jeb Hen­sar­ling has called it “this rogue agency, the Or­wellian-named CFPB.”

Leg­is­la­tion that has passed the House and awaits Se­nate con­sid­er­a­tion would roll back the pow­ers, fund­ing and in­de­pen­dence of the agency and weaken ef­forts to help older folks, groups like U.S. PIRG ar­gue.

“The Con­sumer Bu­reau has al­ready taken nu­mer­ous ma­jor en­force­ment ac­tions against fi­nan­cial firms tar­get­ing older con­sumers,” said Ed Mierzwin­ski, con­sumer pro­gram direc­tor at U.S. PIRG. “Gut­ting the CFPB makes it eas­ier for fi­nan­cial scam­mers to move against older con­sumers, threat­en­ing their homes and re­tire­ment sav­ings.”

Mort­gages ac­count for 31 per­cent of com­plaints by se­niors, his group’s study said. Other lead­ing cat­e­gories: credit re­port­ing and debt col­lec­tion, both 17 per­cent.

One older con­sumer told the agency, “I re­ceived a false state­ment say­ing that my re­cently de­ceased hus­band owed a third party some debt. My hus­band owed no one any­thing.”

To file a com­plaint with the Con­sumer Fi­nan­cial Pro­tec­tion Bu­reau, visit con­sumer­fi­nance.gov/com­plaint or call (855) 411-2372.

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