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Posts from October 2012

Avoiding loan scams after a natural disaster

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UPDATE: As Hurricane Sandy continues to make its way up the East Coast, we wanted to highlight this blog post from last year’s hurricane season. Frauds and scams are too common in the aftermath of a natural disaster. The warning signs and tips below can help you avoid getting caught up in one of these scams as you start cleaning up from the storm.   – The CFPB Web Team

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This year has seen quite a few notable natural disasters, including deadly tornados, wild fires, and floods. Most recently an unusually strong earthquake, hurricane, and floods have struck the eastern United States.

Of course, with any disaster comes the cleanup, which can be expensive. Unfortunately, many families do not have emergency funds and may need to borrow money in a hurry to make important repairs. This post-disaster stress can sometimes make us easier targets for deceptive lenders. (more…)

New York City students and recent graduates: Join us on October 26th.

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Whether you’re an undergraduate, recent grad or grad student, we want you to bring your skills and drive here. As a growing agency, we’re looking to bring on energetic, dedicated people for internships and full-time positions across our teams. With hundreds of potential opportunities available, there is something for you here. See what’s available now: consumerfinance.gov/jobs.

You’ll have the opportunity to use your current skills, and gain new ones, while helping to make financial markets work for millions of Americans and their families. Join us as we work to attract the next generation of government leaders!

Friday, October 26, 2012
1-3 p.m.
Hilton New York Hotel
1335 Ave. of the Americas
New York, New York 10019

Learn more and register today: Link: http://linkd.in/TycxnU

Now accepting credit reporting complaints

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In the past year we have taken big steps toward making consumer financial markets work better for consumers and responsible companies, and consumer complaints have played a major role. We began with credit card complaints in July of 2011, and as time passed, we added complaints about mortgages, bank accounts and services, private student loans, vehicle, and other consumer loans.

We are proud to announce that, starting today, we are accepting complaints about credit reports.

Credit reporting touches the financial lives of nearly each and every American. Credit reports affect whether or not you are able to get a credit card, a home loan, an auto loan, or a student loan, the ability to rent an apartment or get hired, and even tasks as simple as getting a cell phone or electricity for your home. It also can affect how affordable or expensive those things are for you.

Starting today, we can help consumers with individual-level complaint assistance on issues with their credit report. The types of complaints we can work on include:

  • Incorrect information on a credit report
  • A consumer reporting agency’s investigation
  • Improper use of a credit report,
  • Being unable to get a copy of a credit score or file, and
  • Problems with credit monitoring or identify protection services.

Before you file

If you believe that there’s incorrect information on your credit report, or if you have an issue with a credit reporting company’s investigation start by filing a dispute and getting a response directly from the credit reporting company itself.

There are important consumer rights guaranteed by federal consumer financial law that are best preserved by you first going through the credit reporting company’s complaint process.

After you file a complaint with the credit reporting company, if you are dissatisfied with the resolution, file a complaint with us.

Every complaint we receive helps us understand the challenges facing consumers, and they inform and shape our priorities. Reading your complaints about credit reporting will complement work we have already started in this area, including conducting a study comparing credit scores sold to creditors and those sold to consumers and beginning to supervise of consumer reporting agencies.

Scott Pluta is the Assistant Director for the Office of Consumer Response at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

The next front? Student loan servicing and the cost to our men and women in uniform

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Today, I joined the Secretary of Defense at the Pentagon to announce a report about the servicing obstacles that servicemembers face in paying off student loan debt. The report, “The Next Front? Student Loan Servicing and the Cost to Our Men and Women in Uniform,” shows that servicemembers are having a hard time accessing the student-loan repayment protections granted to them under federal rules.

Since I began this job almost two years ago, I’ve visited over 40 different military installations – talking to senior leaders, military service providers and thousands of servicemembers and spouses. One thing I’ve heard repeatedly is that servicemembers are entering the military with – and sometimes because of –student-loan debt, and, as a result, are facing both financial challenges and paperwork challenges. And unfortunately they are not always getting the information they need from their loan servicers about programs and policies that could help them reduce that debt significantly while they’re on active duty.

We’re hearing that servicemembers are having problems getting their lenders to correctly apply their SCRA rights. They also don’t know about their repayment alternatives, and are getting inaccurate or incomplete information about their options. And they’re confused by eligibility requirements for benefits that are so complicated that they either can’t figure out what they’re entitled to or don’t realize that taking one benefit might exclude them from being eligible for another, more helpful, one.

One particular conversation with a young sailor stands out. He was just out of basic training at Naval Station Great Lakes. He told me that he entered the Navy with over $100,000 in student loan debt – and no degree! He joined the Navy because it was the only way he believed he could “make it,” but most of his Navy paycheck was going towards paying off those loans.

How he chooses to pay off his debt is not a matter of just a few dollars and cents. That young sailor could pay nearly $25,000 extra if he doesn’t receive his Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) six-percent interest-rate cap while he’s on active duty. And if he stays in the Navy for 10 years but doesn’t know about or doesn’t use the Income-Based Repayment plan, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, and the SCRA rate cap, he could lose out on nearly $76,000 that he could have cut off his debt in those 10 years.

We’ll be teaming up with DoD to get the word out about military student-loan benefits and consumer protections. We’ve developed a “Guide for Servicemembers with Student Loans” with information on repayment options, as well as an FAQ section for military student loan borrowers at Ask CFPB. Servicemembers with problems in the servicing of their student loan debt can also file a complaint at consumerfinance.gov. And we want servicemembers to know that even if you didn’t ask for student loan repayment benefits when you entered active duty, it’s not too late to do it now!

Helping small businesses understand and comply with the new remittance rule

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Updated on August 8, 2013: The remittance rule goes into effect October 28, 2013. Visit the remittance rule page for additional information regarding the rule including the most recent updates. The compliance guide announced on this blog post is now out of date. Please see the remittance rule page for the latest version.

Update November 11, 2012: We issued a bulletin about changes to the rule we intend to propose in December 2012.

Our goal is to make financial markets work. A crucial part of reaching that goal is making sure that honest businesses – particularly small businesses – have what they need to understand and comply with our new regulations, which are designed both to help consumers and make a fair playing field for companies that play by the rules.

Today, we’re releasing our small business compliance guide for our international electronic money transfers rule (also known as the remittance rule), which will take effect on February 7, 2013. This guide will make it easier to understand the new requirements. Although the guide is not a substitute for the rule, it highlights issues that businesses, in particular small businesses and those that work with them, should consider while implementing the new requirements.

We need your help to find areas in the guide that could be better.

How can I provide feedback?

Email comments about the guide to CFPB_RemittanceGuide@cfpb.gov. Your feedback is crucial to making sure the guide is as helpful as possible. We would love to hear your thoughts on its usefulness and readability, and about improvements you think are needed.

We would especially like to know:

1) What kind of business do you operate?
2) Generally, what is the size of your business?
3) Where are you located?
4) How useful did you find the guide for understanding the rule?
5) How useful did you find the guide for implementing the rule at your business?
6) Do you have any suggestions for making the guide better, such as additional implementation tips?

What are some other compliance resources?

We are working on a number of projects to help industry understand and comply with the new requirements, including:

Questions?

You can reach us at (202) 435-7700.