Cathy Mansfield, professor of law and consumer law expert, was called to Washington D.C., last summer to serve as a policy analyst for the Division of Consumer Education and Engagement at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
Prior to teaching at Drake, Mansfield worked as an attorney in Phoenix, Ariz. She's published articles in the Stanford Law and Policy Review, New Mexico Law Review, and Brooklyn Law Review and is the co-author of “Consumer Banking and Payment Systems,” published by the National Consumer Law Center. At the CFPB, Mansfield has been involved as the principal author for the Bureau’s housing counselor guidebook on the federal government’s new mortgage servicing rules, which went into effect on January 10, 2014. We had the opportunity to sit down with Mansfield and get the inside scoop on her work with the CFPB.
How did you end up in D.C.?
Last spring, I spoke with Gail Hillebrand at the CFPB, who is the head of the Consumer Education and Engagement division. When she asked if I would be interested in working with the Bureau, my first two phone calls were to my two children. My third call was to Dean Vestal, who was incredibly supportive. He thought it was a great opportunity for me, for the school, and for my teaching at Drake. There’s nothing like digging in and getting some experience on the ground to amplify what you’re able to do in the classroom. I’ll return to Drake in August of 2015.
Tell us about your role with CFPB.
I’ve spent my whole career writing about what I thought the government ought to do to protect consumers, and now I’m actually getting to do that. A lot of what I’ve done with my time here is travel the country, training housing counselors who represent borrowers on the new mortgage servicing rules. The new rules are extraordinarily different from what was going on before January 10, when the new rules took effect. It’s a big change in what consumers can expect from their servicers. The Bureau’s new rules speak to the process the servicers have to follow when a borrower asks for a modification to their loan. It’s a multi-step process with a lot of communication between the servicer and the borrower. I’ve done webinars from D.C., and I’ve done some in-person training in Charleston, S.C., Portland, Ore., San Francisco, Calif., Phoenix, Ariz., Kansas City, Kan., Cleveland, Ohio and Newark, N.J.
What has surprised you most since joining the CFPB?
I’m constantly amazed by how few people know about the Bureau and its services. The Bureau has a really great website, consumerfinance.gov. There are all sorts of tools for borrowers, for example, a worksheet for figuring out your options for re-paying your student loan debt. We also have frequently asked questions, and a complaint portal, where people can report consumer financial issues. Our website is impressive and filled with information. I would encourage people to play around on it.