The State of California is making strides, leading the way in consumer protection. Under the newly formed Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI), this currently established department has collected close to $1 million dollars in restitution for consumers.
The DFPI has fielded hundreds of additional complaints related to the law. And it has launched more than 100 investigations using its expanded authority under the California Consumer Financial Protection Law (CCFPL).
“The Department has made substantial progress in its first year to implement the new law, (AB 1864) expand protection for consumers, and foster responsible financial innovation,” said Clothilde V. Hewlett, DFPI Commissioner.
Appointed to the position by Governor Gavin Newsom in September 2021, Hewlett has served California under three different governors. For more than 20 years Hewlett has dedicated much of her career to protecting consumers. Serving as Undersecretary of the State and Consumer Services Agency and Interim Director of the Department of General Services, Hewlett managed numerous state agencies with a wide range of oversight that included procurement, real estate, and consumer affairs.
She led the team during California’s 2001 energy crisis, creating the Flex Your Power Campaign. During the events of Sept. 11, 2001, she was responsible for oversight of the state of California Victim Compensation Board, providing support to survivors and families who lost loved ones during the terrorist attack. Prior to her appointment at the California DFPI, Commissioner Hewlett served as a board member for the Cal Alumni Association (CAA).
Among the many things the DFPI has created, in a short span of time is a research team to help the Department identify emerging financial activities. These activities include: scouting for unlawful, unfair, deceptive, and abusive practices. And as a result, make policy recommendations based on consumer impact.
Included on the list with debt collection, the Department’s top categories of complaints are: cryptocurrency, “neo banks,” and financial technology, or “fintech” service providers. Fintech is a partnering firm with banks to offer deposit account services. The top complaints the Department has received appears to have been driven by communications efforts to raise awareness about the DFPI’s expanded authority and mission.
The DFPI has also actively reminded the debt collection industry of COVID-19-related mortgage and rental protections available to California consumers.
“We remain committed to accomplishing the goals of Governor Gavin Newsom,” said DFPI Commissioner Hewlett. “And we are grateful to all stakeholders, including the Legislature, consumer advocates, industry partners, small businesses, community-based organizations, and many others for their continued input and support.” To learn more about California’s efforts to protect and advocate for consumers visit the DFPI website.