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What is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau?

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) helps give consumers a “voice” in the financial markets.1 It is a U.S. government agency that supervises credit unions, banks and financial service providers, including credit card companies. It enforces financial laws and educates consumers about their defenses against abusive business practices.

The go-to consumer agency

The CFPB is the go-to agency when you have questions or complaints about the financial industry. The agency also works directly with banking and financial companies to help prevent financial harm to consumers.

Following are five major CFPB services that you can take advantage of:

  1. Ask questions –Ask questions about anything concerning the consumer financial industry. For example, you might want to ask if your credit score is affected when a private label credit card company checks your credit report when you apply for a card.
  2. Compare financial aid offers – The CFPB partnered with the Department of Education and created a “Financial Aid Shopping Sheet” for comparing student financial aid offers.
  3. Understand mortgages – The CFPB has online tools for exploring interest rates and understanding home loan options.
  4. File a complaint – Financial Institutions are often eager to work with you directly to resolve a problem you may have with your account, but if you believe a bank or financial business has violated the law, purposely misled you or practiced credit discrimination, you can file a complaint. The agency will investigate and respond to your complaint.
  5. Tell your story – You can post personal stories of good or bad experiences with consumer financial products.

Protecting consumers through compliance

You also benefit because the CFPB conducts regular examinations of banks and financial businesses they oversee, helping to ensure compliance with federal laws and regulations. The goal of the CFPB is to write rules through a lens of transparency and fairness to consumers. For example, the “Know Before You Owe” mortgage disclosure is a regulation requiring that mortgage terms are clearly laid out.2

You should only incur debt when you have a full understanding of your rights and responsibilities. One place for you to start is by reviewing the basics of financing, which is a primer on borrowing and the financial marketplace.

Additional Reading

CFPB Rolls Out Online Tools to Explain New Mortgage Disclosure Forms
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Explained

Sources:

1. Consumer Finance Protection Bureau - About Us
2. Consumer Finance Protection Bureau - Everyone Has a Story
3. 10 Ways the CFPB is Protecting Consumers
4. Dodd Frank: Title X - Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection
5. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau 101: Why We Need a Consumer Watchdog

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