1. Money
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Learn About the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

The agency that protects consumers in the financial marketplace

By

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a government agency created in 2010 by the Dodd-Frank Act to protect consumers in the financial marketplace. The bureau began operation on July 21, 2011 and oversees consumer financial products like credit cards, mortgages, and checking accounts. The agency works to educate consumers on these products, enforce Federal consumer financial laws like the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and to study consumers, banks, and consumer financial markets.

The CFPB was created in response to an evident need for a federal financial agency that focuses on consumers and rids the financial marketplace of unfair, deception, or abusive practices. Since its creation, the CFPB has been instrumental in enforcing one of the most important pieces of credit card legislation – the Credit CARD Act of 2009. In addition, the CFPB’s “Know Before You Owe” project seeks to educate consumers about financial products, helping them make informed decisions about borrowing money.

The CFPB can write and enforce new rules for the businesses under its jurisdiction. Rules are typically open for public comments for several weeks before a final rule is made. Comments can help shape a final rule so it’s important to leave feedback on rules that may affect you.

Notable Accomplishments

A few things the CFPB has done for consumers since its inception:
  • Created a template for a simpler credit card agreement under the “Know Before You Owe” project
  • Taken on supervision of the largest debt collectors and credit bureaus.
  • Created the Consumer Complaint Database which publishes complaints made against credit card issuers since December 1, 2011. The database may be expanded to include complaints about other products and services.
  • Penalized major credit card issuers for illegal marketing of add-on services. These were the first enforcement actions made by the CFPB.
  • Created Financial Aid Shopping Sheet and Financial Aid Comparison Shopper to aid students in the student loan process

The CFPB has conducted a few in-depth studies on major financial products such as an analysis on the differences between consumer- and creditor-purchased credit scores.

Leadership

As of January 2012, Rich Corday is the first Director of the CFPB. Prior to his role as CFPB Director, Corday served as Attorney General for the State of Ohio and was given prestigious recognition by the Better Business Bureau for his work at Attorney General. Under the Dodd-Frank law, the bureau must have a director to write new rules or supervise financial companies other than banks.

CFPB Complaint Process

According to a report released in October 2012, the CFPB has received approximately 79,200 complaints from July 21, 2011 through September 30, 2012. Mortgage complaints top the list followed by credit card complaints. Most complaints - 45% - were submitted through the CFPB’s website, though the bureau also receives complaints by phone, mail, email, and fax.

The CFPB screens complaints to be sure they’re complete and that they fall under the agency’s enforcement authority. Then, complaints are forwarded to the appropriate company. The company will then review the complaint, respond to the consumer as necessary, decides what action to take, and responds back to the CFPB. After the company responds, the consumer can review the response and dispute if there are still issues.

You can submit a complaint about your mortgage, credit card, bank account, auto loan, consumer loan, or student loan through ConsumerFinance.gov/Complaint. You’ll have to create a username and password if you want to log in again to check the status of your complaint.

The CFPB blog is a great place to keep up with what the agency is doing to protect consumers in the financial market place. You can also Like their Facebook page and Follow them on twitter.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.