You, like millions of other consumers, make complicated financial decisions every day, from paying for college, to buying a home to planning for retirement. While these decisions are opportunities to achieve your financial goals and improve your life, they often come with risks. That’s where we can help.
At the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, we work to protect consumers like you by weeding out bad actors and by helping to empower you to make smart financial decisions. As we do our work, we tend to focus on four types of problems that consumers face in the marketplace:
- Deception, or situations where the costs and risks of a financial decision are hidden or unclear;
- Debt traps, or practices that trigger a cycle of debt where consumers rack up substantial costs over time;
- Dead ends, or situations where people cannot simply walk away when they are treated unfairly; and
- Discrimination, or unequal treatment based on characteristics such as race, gender or other factors that the law prohibits.
To protect and help consumers in the financial marketplace, we set priorities to ensure that we tackle the most troubling problems using the best mix of tools available.
Over the past year, we identified nine priority goals we intend to work toward over the next two years. We selected these goals based on the extent of the consumer harm that we identified and our capacity to eliminate or lessen that harm. We weighed each of our tools – for example, setting basic rules of the road, improving consumer education, or holding institutions accountable for breaking the law– to determine the right mix for achieving each priority goal, and we developed a plan to make sure that we put our limited resources to work in the most effective way possible.
Today we provided an overview of these goals to the members of our Consumer Advisory Board, and we’d like to share them with you. Check out our fact sheet, which lays out our nine priority goals, our plan for achieving them, and why we chose them. Much of this work may look familiar, as it builds on our rulemaking agenda and our broader five-year strategic plan.
It’s important to note that these priority goals do not capture all of the important work we are doing. In particular, we will continue to police all markets within our jurisdiction for compliance with consumer financial law and regulations. So, financial companies should continue their focus on complying with the law beyond the particular issues described in the goals, whether or not they see their particular industry or product mentioned explicitly.
In addition, while this strategy focuses primarily on forward-looking priorities, there are some priority work streams that are well-established and ongoing, and we will see that work through to completion. This includes, in particular, our fair lending oversight of indirect auto lenders and our rulemaking on prepaid cards.
When we do our work well, we help to ensure that consumers, like you, are able to make the financial decisions they believe are best for themselves and their families in a fair marketplace—one where prices are clear up front, risks are visible, nothing is buried in fine print, and everyone plays by the rules. In a market that works, consumers should be able to make direct comparisons among financial products and services and no provider should be able to use unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts or practices.
We believe the strategy we’ve laid out in the fact sheet is the best way to accomplish those outcomes and to serve you and all American consumers. Hearing from consumers we serve is central to carrying out our important work. Help us out by participating in the conversation: you can tell us your story, or submit a complaint about an experience you’ve had or are having with a financial service or product.