Enforcement actions are still a tool in CFPB arsenal, Kraninger says

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WASHINGTON — The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is stepping up its enforcement actions after her predecessor had temporarily frozen the agency’s ability to use the tool, said Director Kathy Kraninger.

Total enforcement actions were significantly down under the leadership of former acting CFPB Director Mick Mulvaney, who is now President Trump’s acting chief of staff. But Kraninger said in a speech that enforcement actions are an effective way for the CFPB to discourage violations of consumer protection laws.

“Sometimes we do have to intervene with an enforcement action, and that’s something that I’ve continued to do,” Kraninger said at a National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions event. “Public decisive action against wrongdoers does send a clear message to the marketplace and hopefully continues to deter unlawful behavior and support, as I’ve said, that level playing field, so that’s something that we’ll continue to do and have done.”

In her first public speech as director in April, Kraninger emphasized that the CFPB should not view "outputs," such as money returned to consumers or the volume of enforcement actions, as measures of its success. Under former Director Richard Cordray, the CFPB returned $12 billion to consumers over six years, some of which came in the form of canceled consumer debts.

“We weigh many different factors to determine the precise mix of restitution, penalties, and injunctive leave that’s appropriate in each case and that frankly can be very challenging to get restitution depending on the kind of harm that consumers have suffered,” said Kraninger.

Still, Kraninger remains focused on preventing harmful activity as opposed to punishing bad actors after the fact through enforcement actions, she said.

“I think that’s a very effective way … of ensuring consumer access to a fair and competitive market,” she said.

Kate Berry contributed to this story.

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Enforcement actions Penalties and fines Lending Kathy Kraninger Mick Mulvaney Richard Cordray CFPB NAFCU