Representatives Ryan (D-OH) & Bera (D-CA) Press the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to Protect Americans’ Credit Scores from Postmaster General DeJoy’s Postal Crisis
Washington, DC – Representatives Tim Ryan (OH-13) and Ami Bera M.D. (CA-07) today pressed the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to provide guidance to lenders so Postal Service delays do not negatively impact Americans’ credit scores. In a letter to Acting Director Dave Uejio, the lawmakers joined with twelve of their colleagues requesting the CFPB to issue guidance so that the American people are not unfairly punished when bills arrive late because of undue delays by the Postal Service.
“This crisis has already driven too many Ohioans into debt as they’ve dealt with job loss, cuts to their income, and unexpected healthcare costs. The last thing our people need is additional strain because they aren’t getting their bills in time due to postal delays. Postmaster General DeJoy has done enough harm as he’s hamstrung the USPS, delaying delivery of prescriptions, pay checks, and bills. While the Biden Administration works to undo the damage his leadership has caused, I hope the CFPB will do their part to lessen the pain for the American people and ensure they don’t have an even deeper hole to dig out of after this crisis is over,” said Representative Ryan.
“Postal Service delays continue to cause frustration and economic hardship for families and small businesses across Sacramento County,” said Representative Bera. “Through no fault of their own, my constituents continue to receive bills in the mail past the date they are due or have mailed on-time payments which arrived past their due date, resulting in late fees or even negatively impacting their credit scores. All consumers, but especially our seniors, should be able to receive bills and make payments in the form they are comfortable with without the fear of being punished because of the chaos at the USPS.”
“The American people are unfairly being punished during this time of economic hardship for something that is completely out of their control. Until the USPS takes steps to get back on track, we are calling on the CFPB to provide guidance to lenders to ensure that our constituents are not hit with unfair late fees and to provide guidance to credit reporting agencies to be sure these delays are not impacting credit scores,” wrote the lawmakers.
DeJoy was appointed by President Trump in the summer of 2020 and almost immediately ordered the dismantling of automated mail sorting machines and limited employee hours, which many of regarded as an effort intended to disrupt mail-in voting during the pandemic. Before DeJoy’s leadership, the USPS delivered 96 percent of mail on time. Under his leadership, that delivery rate has degraded to just over 70 percent in some areas of the country.
Shortly after President Biden’s Inauguration, Congressman Ryan called for the President to clean house among the USPS Board of Governors to make way for a new postmaster general who would correct the problems with the Postal Service.
On Monday, President Joe Biden sent the Senate the names of three nominees to fill most of the vacancies on the USPS Board of Governors, which should pave the way for the replacement of Postmaster General DeJoy.
See the full text of the letter here and below.
The Honorable Dave Uejio
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
1700 G Street NW
Washington, DC 20552
Dear Acting Director Uejio,
We first wanted to thank you for stepping up to serve as the interim Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) as the new administration begins to restore the agency’s mission of ensuring financial rules are followed and consumers are safeguarded. As we are sure you are aware, the coronavirus pandemic and economic crisis have hit our constituents and the American people hard. The United States Postal Service (USPS) has felt the impact of the pandemic, and combined with mismanagement by the previous administration, has resulted in unprecedented delays in mail delivery. Because of this, many of our constituents have received bills past the date they are due. This is resulting in stiff late fees, through no fault of the consumer. We write to urge you to consider issuing guidance to lenders and credit reporting agencies on the delayed payment of bills resulting from Postal Service delays.
CFPB guidance can help put the minds of the American people at ease as we continue to experience extreme delays with the USPS. We are requesting that you take action to allay the economic hit the mismanagement of the Postal Service continues to have on millions of Americans. Our constituents depend on prompt receipt of their bills and payments, ranging from credit card and utility bills to car payments and medical bills. However, combined with operational changes at the USPS and impacts of the pandemic on staffing, our constituents can no longer feel comfortable knowing their bills and payments are arriving on time.
These delays are resulting in too many consumers facing late fees and ultimately leading to adverse information on credit reports, resulting in lowered credit scores and diminished future credit opportunities. These penalties for individuals who pay their bills on time, while their checks are stuck with the Postal Service, is beyond unacceptable. All consumers, especially our seniors, should be able to trust how they have received bills and made payments for decades.They are more comfortable with paying through the mail and they should be able to rely on how they have paid for decades, without the fear of getting hit with fees.
Congress took steps to protect consumers when it passed the Truth in Lending Act, which specifies that credit card companies grant a reasonable deadline for payments received by mail. Given the postal delays that too many of our constituents are facing, we hope you would agree to reevaluate what constitutes as a reasonable deadline during the COVID-19 emergency period.
The American people are unfairly being punished during this time of economic hardship for something that is completely out of their control. Until the USPS takes steps to get back on track, we are calling on the CFPB to provide guidance to lenders to ensure that our constituents are not hit with unfair late fees and to provide guidance to credit reporting agencies to be sure these delays are not impacting credit scores.
Further, we would welcome the opportunity to discuss this issue either virtually or by phone. We feel this would provide us a great opportunity to fully convey to you the concerns we have heard from our constituents. Thank you for your attention to this matter and thank you for your work to protect our constituents. We stand ready to assist in any way that we can.