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Top dog with national consumer watchdog group visits Tampa

By Malena Carollo
Richard Cordray, the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau speaks during the local CFPB Consumer Advisory Board meeting. | [OCTAVIO JONES | Times]

TAMPA — Amid concerns that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is losing ground under the Trump administration and a pro-business Congress, director Richard Cordray visited Tampa Thursday for a Consumer Advisory Board meeting.

"We also make it a point to travel outside of Washington, D.C., to learn more about consumers in the different parts of the country," Cordray told about 40 advisory board members and visitors at the session.

The Consumer Advisory Board, established in 2012, is a group of consumer protection experts that help the bureau track consumer finance trends and practices.

Tampa’s visit, Cordray said, was intended to bolster the agency’s understanding of issues retirement communities in the state face, as well as how natural disasters have affected consumers.

"It can be hard to know whom to trust and where to look for guidance and help (after a natural disaster)," Cordray said, "as well as what financial steps to take as individuals and communities to start recovering."

Among the issues Cordray touched on were the pitfalls of reverse mortgages, personal finance tools the bureau offers and the agency’s final rule on auto title, payday and high-cost installment loans.

His trip comes amid the CFPB’s struggle against the Trump administration’s push for business interests. Just a week ago, the Senate overturned a July rule that made it easier for consumers to sue credit card companies and banks. Asked if he thought the seven-year-old agency was losing clout under the Trump administration, Cordray deflected.

"I think we have the same mission we’ve always had which is to protect and support consumers in the financial marketplace," he said. "And I think that’s an important mission that is needed by people all across the country."

Contact Malena Carollo at [email protected] or (727) 892-2249. Follow @malenacarollo on Twitter.