Commentary

February 26, 2016
 

What the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau can do for you

consumer-finance
What is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau?
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a federal agency that assists financial consumers by making rules more effective, enforcing those rules, and by empowering consumers to take more control over their economic lives. The CFPB educates consumers on a wide range of financial matters in order to build a first line of defense against abusive practices in the financial marketplace. 
The CFPB works to make regulations and guidance as clear and streamlined as possible so providers of consumer financial products and services can follow the rules on their own. The CFPB gives consumers the information they need to understand the terms of their agreements with financial companies and to make the financial decisions they believe are best for themselves and their families. Above all, this means ensuring consumers get the information they need, prices are clear up front, risks are visible, and nothing is buried in fine print. In a market that works, consumers should be able to make direct comparisons among products and no provider should be able to use unfair, deceptive, or abusive practices.

What does the CFPB do?
Congress established the CFPB to protect consumers by implementing federal consumer financial laws. 
Among other things, the CFPB:

* Enacts rules and supervises financial companies including banks and credit unions
* Enforces federal consumer financial protection laws
* Restricts unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts or practices
* Takes consumer complaints
* Promotes financial education
* Researches consumer behavior
* Monitors financial markets for new risks to consumers
* Enforces laws that outlaw discrimination and other unfair treatment in consumer finance

How does the CFPB serve and protect Servicemembers?
The Office of Servicemember Affairs at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is dedicated to assist in resolving consumer financial challenges affecting servicemembers, veterans, and their families. The OSA offers financial education, monitors complaints submitted by consumers to the CFPB, and coordinates with other Federal and state agencies on military consumer protection measures. The OSA understands that military life has extra challenges, such as deployment and frequent moves, and that those challenges can have powerful financial repercussions. Representing the military community at the CFPB, the OSA works to ensure others understand the unique consumer financial challenges faced by the military, and to encourage the CFPB and other agencies use their powers to make financial markets work better for our military and veteran families. 

Taking Action to Assist Servicemembers
If you have a complaint against a financial company, you can submit it to the CFPB (http://www.consumerfinance.gov/complaint/). The CFPB will forward your issue to the company, give you a tracking number, and keep you updated on the status of your complaint. On the CFPB website, servicemembers can find straightforward answers to common issues and financial questions affecting servicemembers.

Advocating for Better Protections for Servicemembers
The OSA advocates for strengthening the Military Lending Act. The MLA should protect members of the military, but loopholes have cost servicemembers millions of dollars.  The OSA and CFPB are shedding light on what these loopholes cost, what DoD is proposing to do about it, and how we as a country can better protect people in uniform.

Providing Resources for Servicemembers, Veterans, and their Families
Most people paying for higher education take out student loans.  Servicemembers, veterans, and their families have special options that could save them money and make them better off in the long run. From servicemember guides on minimizing student loan debt to a GI Bill calculator, the CFPB website provides a wide range of tools for educators and servicemembers on military education benefits and student loans. The OSA hosts an ongoing series of online Military Financial Educator eLearnings on consumer financial topics for military leaders, Command Financial Specialist, and service providers. 
Additionally, the CFPB has compiled a listing of the consumer financial protection resources available to servicemembers and their families in each of the 50 states. The inclusion of these state resources are especially important to servicemembers and their families as they move from duty station to duty station and are often unfamiliar with the consumer protection assistance available to them.
For more information about the CFPB, visit http://www.consumerfinance.gov/ or call 855-411-2372.




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