Happy Birthday to the Federal Agency That Works for Your Wallet

Photo (cc) by perspec_photo88

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was born to help consumers in the aftermath of the Great Recession. Yet, many Americans may not realize this federal agency exists.

Since the agency opened its doors four years ago today, the CFPB has been charged with protecting the interests of consumers in financial marketplaces. Among other things, it was established to:

  • Accept and respond to complaints from Americans who feel they have been wronged in various types of financial transactions
  • Create new consumer protections for financial products and services
  • Hold “bad actors” accountable for breaking the rules
  • Develop tools and resources to help consumers make informed financial decisions

The bureau was established by a federal law, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010.

Jim Lardner, spokesperson for the nonprofit Americans for Financial Reform, says in a press release that the CFPB has been a resounding success so far:

Only five years have passed since Congress created this agency … In that short time, the Consumer Bureau has begun to do something that is — unfortunately — remarkable: fulfill its mission, without getting waylaid by revolving-door insiders or falling into bureaucratic paralysis or partisan gridlock.

The CFPB counts among its accomplishments:

  • Securing $10.1 billion in relief for consumers harmed by illegal practices in the financial marketplace
  • Accepting and working to resolve more than 650,000 consumer complaints about financial products and services
  • Developing free tools and resources to help consumers better understand the financial marketplace and plan for their financial futures

The CFPB offers free tools and resources to all Americans that enable them to do any and all of the following:

1. File a complaint

The CFPB accepts complaints about 11 categories of financial products and services. They are:

  • Bank accounts or services
  • Credit cards or prepaid cards
  • Credit reporting
  • Debt collection
  • Money transfer or virtual currency
  • Mortgages
  • Payday loans
  • Student loans
  • Vehicle loans or leases
  • Other consumer loans
  • Other financial services

Consumers can file complaints online. Consumers can also get help by calling the CFPB at 1-855-411-2372. Help is available in more than 180 languages.

The bureau says that once a complaint has been filed, it forwards the complaint to the company involved. The company then has 15 days to respond.

The bureau expects companies to close out complaints within 60 days except for “the most complicated complaints.”

Consumers who have filed complaints can also review company responses and give the bureau feedback online.

2. Search others’ complaints

The CFPB announced last month that it had started making complaint narratives public. This allows consumers to read others’ complaints in full, providing consumers with additional insight when deciding about a financial product or service.

CFPB Director Richard Cordray explained last week during an anniversary event hosted by the group Americans for Financial Reform:

We started allowing consumers to share their specific account of what happened, in their own words, so that others may read about and better understand their experiences. A consumer who chooses to make her experience public enables more people to exert their power to improve the financial marketplace. So publishing these complaint narratives represents a milestone for consumer empowerment. They are the heart and soul of a consumer complaint.

The Consumer Complaint Database can be accessed and searched online.

3. Get answers to common questions

Ask CFPB” is the bureau’s collection of more than 1,000 frequently asked financial questions, and the answers to them.

Consumers can search the Q&As by entering a keyword or by selecting a particular topic category (like “Mortgages” or “Money transfers”) or a particular type of consumer (like “Parents” or “Older Americans”).

For more help with financial products or problems — including mortgages, loans and debt-collector harassment — visit the Money Talks News Solutions Center.

Have you ever used the CFPB’s services? Let us all know what you think of the bureau by leaving a comment below or on our Facebook page.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
10 Things You Should Never Buy on Amazon
10 Things You Should Never Buy on Amazon

Just because you can purchase something on Amazon doesn’t mean that you should.

How to Buy a Refrigerator, Step by Step
How to Buy a Refrigerator, Step by Step

Here’s how I got the perfect appliance at the perfect price.

What Brand Makes the Best Rechargeable AA Batteries?
What Brand Makes the Best Rechargeable AA Batteries?

The best battery depends on what you need it for and how big your budget is. Here’s how to find the cheapest brand that will do the job you need.

7 Ways Coupons Waste Your Money and Time
7 Ways Coupons Waste Your Money and Time

Here’s why I hung up my scissors and quit clipping coupons.

70% of Older Adults Botch This Basic Retirement Question
70% of Older Adults Botch This Basic Retirement Question

Can you answer this fundamental retirement income question?

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It
If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It

Whether you resell it for a big profit or add it to your own wardrobe, this type of clothing is a hidden steal.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

This Surprise Factor Can Raise Your Risk of Dementia
This Surprise Factor Can Raise Your Risk of Dementia

Nearly half of U.S. residents may face this threat.

Organize Your Home With These 10 Thrift Store Finds
Organize Your Home With These 10 Thrift Store Finds

Resolve to be clutter-free in 2021 with these secondhand purchases.

11 Laws You Could Be Breaking Without Knowing It
11 Laws You Could Be Breaking Without Knowing It

Seriously? Fibbing about the weather is a crime? This and other little-known legal traps await the unwary.

Is This Treatable Condition Causing Your High Blood Pressure?
Is This Treatable Condition Causing Your High Blood Pressure?

Researchers say too many doctors are overlooking this potential source of hypertension.

13 Things Seniors Can Get for Free — or Almost Free
13 Things Seniors Can Get for Free — or Almost Free

There are many ways to get cheap or free services and goods after reaching a certain age.

These Are the 3 Best Used Cars You Can Buy
These Are the 3 Best Used Cars You Can Buy

These vehicles boast reliability, safety and long-lasting value.

Taking a Multivitamin? Here’s Why You Should Reconsider
Taking a Multivitamin? Here’s Why You Should Reconsider

A new study has bad news for the millions of Americans who spend money on multivitamins.

21 Items to Cut From Your Budget That You Won’t Even Miss
21 Items to Cut From Your Budget That You Won’t Even Miss

Start off the new year by implementing these small-but-smart savings strategies. They’ll soon add up.

Internet Providers Can’t Charge You for This Anymore
Internet Providers Can’t Charge You for This Anymore

Starting this month, your ISP no longer can bill you for this fee.

15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2021
15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2021

Follow these tips to save, so you’ll have money for things that really matter.

Prepare to Pay More for These 31 Drugs in 2021
Prepare to Pay More for These 31 Drugs in 2021

More than 700 prescription medications have seen price hikes so far this year. Here’s a look at the worst.

5 States Lowering Taxes This Year — and 2 Raising Them
5 States Lowering Taxes This Year — and 2 Raising Them

State personal income tax rates, brackets and deductions just changed in these places.

This Is America’s New Favorite Grocery Store
This Is America’s New Favorite Grocery Store

Consumers say a familiar name has become their go-to source of grocery items.

The 10 Golden Rules of Becoming a Millionaire
The 10 Golden Rules of Becoming a Millionaire

I’m a millionaire several times over. I got here the same way you can — by following these simple steps.

11 Huge Retirement Costs That Are Often Overlooked
11 Huge Retirement Costs That Are Often Overlooked

Does your retirement budget account for all of these costs?

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.