Watchdog Targets Debt Collectors, Credit Bureaus

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The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau wants to expand its scope to include oversight over the credit bureaus and debt collectors. This would give the federal government an unprecedented view into increasingly powerful industries.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And the new director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is looking to expand the agency's scope. Richard Cordray is proposing a rule that would give the bureau the power to supervise debt collectors and credit reporting agencies.

As NPR's Yuki Noguchi reports, this would give the federal government an unprecedented view into increasingly powerful industries.

YUKI NOGUCHI, BYLINE: Director Cordray says this rule is important because the Great Recession has altered the financial lives of many Americans.

RICHARD CORDRAY: It means many more people now have debts that are being collected against them than was true before, and many people have more dollars in debt that are being collected against them. So, the impact of the debt collection industry on America is greater, I would say considerably greater in 2012 than it may have been in 2002.

NOGUCHI: This proposed new oversight goes beyond regulatory authority, which the bureau already has over non-bank entities. It will allow the watchdog agency to monitor ratings and debt collections firm's activities and audit their books.

CORDRAY: The supervision tool, which is what this rule addresses today, is a very powerful tool. It's a very powerful way for us to secure compliance with the law and to know exactly what firms are doing.

NOGUCHI: The rule is subject to public comment for 60 days. And Cordray says expect to see other moves by the bureau to supervise other non-bank financial firms.

Yuki Noguchi, NPR News, Washington.

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