Consumer protection bureau fills post of student loans ombudsman after one-year vacancy

Brian G. Cameron has been appointed private education loan ombudsman at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), filling a post that has been vacant since the resignation nearly one year ago by the former ombudsman.

The CFPB announced Cameron’s appointment Friday.

Cameron, the bureau noted, is a colonel and staff judge advocate for the Pennsylvania Army National Guard; he has served in the United States Army for 29 years. Prior to his appointment at the CFPB, the bureau said, Cameron served at the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency as a “high-ranking official” responsible for litigation, compliance with federal and state laws (including the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act), and risk mitigation efforts. He has also served in Pennsylvania’s Treasury Department and in the Governor’s Office of General Counsel, the bureau said.

Cameron earned his law degree from the Duquesne University School of Law and undergraduate degree from Washington and Jefferson College, both located in Pennsylvania.

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank) created a private education loan ombudsman position within the bureau and gave the Treasury secretary, in consultation with the CFPB director, the authority to designate that person. This individual is responsible for receiving, reviewing, and attempting to resolve complaints from private student loan borrowers and, the bureau noted, for compiling and analyzing complaint data on private education loans and making appropriate recommendations to the Treasury secretary, the bureau director, the education secretary, and Congress.

The act, specifically section 1035, also tasks the ombudsman with reporting yearly to these audiences on its own activities.

The bureau’s former ombudsman, Seth Frotman, resigned the ombudsman position last year (effective Sept. 1) in a letter charging that the bureau under the leadership of then-Acting Director John (“Mick”) Mulvaney no longer protected consumers but instead served “the wishes of the most powerful financial companies in America.”

Frotman, in his letter, said the bureau “folded to political pressure” when the Department of Education “unilaterally shut the door to routine CFPB oversight of the largest student loan companies”; blocked efforts to alert the department about how consumers would be harmed by its “unprecedented and illegal attempts to preempt state consumer laws and shield student loan companies from accountability for widespread abuses”; and suppressed the publication of a report by bureau staff on “legally dubious account fees” charged by banks.

CFPB Appoints Private Education Loan Ombudsman

RR: Consumer bureau’s top student loan watchdog resigns, says bureau has ‘abandoned’ consumers (Aug. 27, 2018)

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