Standing Up to Financial Scammers to Protect Military Families

Chairman Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) speaks during a Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee oversight hearing to examine Wall Street firms on Capitol Hill.
Chairman Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) speaks during a Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee oversight hearing to examine Wall Street firms on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2023, in Washington. (Alex Brandon/AP Photo)

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When most Americans look at service members, they see them as the patriots and public servants that they are.

Sadly, when shady companies see our service members, they see an opportunity to make a quick buck. It's as reprehensible as it is cynical.

That's why, in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, my colleagues and I passed legislation to create an agency that stands up to predatory special interests. Protecting service members and veterans is one of the most important things the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) does. In fact, when we created the CFPB, we made sure it included a dedicated Office of Servicemembers Affairs.

Every year, tens of thousands of troops go to the CFPB seeking assistance or reporting a complaint -- and the CFPB goes to bat for them, working to get their money back or fix the problem.

Protecting the CFPB is vital to protecting military families from corporate abuse, which is exactly why Wall Street and powerful special interests are trying everything they can to destroy the CFPB.

The CFPB is under attack. These corporate interests have made it clear that they will not clean up their act on their own, and they will fight anyone who tries to make them. They've used every tactic they can think of to try to stop the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's work -- everything from trying to remove its director to frivolous lawsuits to wrongly calling it unconstitutional.

There is no other federal agency with this level of responsiveness, efficiency and ability to take on greedy corporations and shady lenders.

It's how the CFPB has returned more than $175 million to service members and veterans.

On top of the work troops and their families do and the sacrifices they make, they have the added trouble of watching out for fraudsters, identity thieves, predatory lenders and negligent credit reporting agencies.

This costs members of our military money -- and it could cost them their careers. For many service members, a bad mark on a credit report means that they could lose their security clearance and their job. In fact, 80% of security clearance revocations are related to financial difficulties.

The holiday season is upon us. Soon, we'll be gathered with our families, baking cookies and giving gifts to loved ones.

But for many serving in our nation's military, the holidays will be spent apart this year -- one of the many sacrifices they make to protect our country.

All military families know that comes with the job.

Military families don't have high-priced lobbyists. They don't have corporate lawyers. It's our job to fight for them and protect the CFPB, both during the holiday season when they might be serving our country overseas and every day.

-- Sherrod Brown is the senior U.S. senator from Ohio. He chairs the Senate Banking and Housing Committee and is a senior member of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee.

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