White loan borrowers are collecting settlement proceeds distributed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) intended for black, Hispanic and Asian people, according to the House Committee of Financial Services’ Wednesday report.
The CFPB is responsible for distributing $80 million in settlement proceeds to “more than 235,000 minority consumers” for alleged racial discrimination by auto-lender Ally Financial Inc. and Ally Bank. The agency, however, removed a number of safeguards in its claims process, making it susceptible to fraud.
To opt-in, borrowers were only required to indicate they were a member of the one of the ethnicities eligible for payment, not specify which one.
“It is unclear whether Director Cordray personally approved this action, or whether the decision was made by Assistant Director Patrice Ficklin,” the report states. “When Committee staff asked why the Bureau had rejected the requirement, (staffer Rebecca) Gelfond replied ‘we are not in a position to question self-identification of race.’”
The government mailed 419,669 potential claim letters, 47.92 percent of which were returned. CFPB Director Richard Cordray said 235,000 were victimized, according to the staff report.
Consumers are expected to receive remuneration checks, scheduled to be sent January, in amounts ranging between $100 and $520 depending on the bureau’s “calculation of individual harm.”
Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling called on Attorney General Loretta Lynch in a Tuesday letter to stop the Department of Justice and the CFPB from sending checks until they are able to verify eligibility.
“It defies logic for federal agencies to distribute settlement funds without first verifying the eligibility of prospective recipients, particularly when the bureau’s case is premised upon a flawed statistical analysis, as conclusively demonstrated in the staff reports,” the Texas Republican wrote.