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Posts from November 2012

The first year at the CFPB Ombudsman’s Office

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Today, I want to share with you our first CFPB Ombudsman’s annual report describing the work we’ve done in the last year. Each year we plan on delivering this report to the CFPB Director and then sharing it with you.

Last December, we opened the Ombudsman’s Office to assist in resolving individual and systemic process issues, that a consumer or provider of consumer financial products and services has with the CFPB, by advocating for a fair process. This first report shares how we set up the office and describes, in a summary way, who reached out to us since the office opened and why. It talks about our informal feedback to the CFPB throughout the year. It discusses the systemic issues we reviewed that affect both consumers and providers of consumer financial products and services, our recommendations to the CFPB, and the CFPB’s responses. We also highlight plans for the coming year.

We are especially excited about this report because it is our first. Let us know what you think at CFPBOmbudsman@cfpb.gov.

Wendy Kamenshine is the Ombudsman for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

The CFPB’s summer internships: “a unique and exciting combination of purpose and circumstances”

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We’re recruiting summer interns for our Pathways Program again. If you’re interested in the mission of the CFPB, read the full posting to learn more and apply. The deadline is midnight on Wednesday, December 5.

We’ve asked the Student Ambassadors, former CFPB interns, to share what inspired them to intern with the CFPB and why they’re serving as ambassadors after their service. Previously we heard from Vanessa. Now it’s Thomas’s turn.

Thomas La Voy
School: Oberlin College
Program: Major in Politics and Economics

I am really glad I was able to intern at the CFPB this past summer. Before my internship, I’d been following the creation and development of the CFPB with interest, from seeing Elizabeth Warren on The Daily Show to sitting a row behind Richard Cordray during a House Government Oversight subcommittee hearing this past January. The CFPB represents a unique and exciting combination of purpose and circumstances. It has the energy and culture of a start-up, with the responsibility and goals of a federal agency designed to aid and protect those who need it. The people I met there were incredibly smart and driven, and I always felt that the whole Bureau was one team, working together. I want to tell others about my experience with this agency, about its potential, its people.

If you’re interested in being part of the Pathways Program, you have until midnight, Wednesday, December 5, to apply. To learn more and apply, check out our full announcement.

Lindsay Bacon is the part of the Talent Acquisition team of the Office of Human Capital at Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

This post was updated to reflect the extended application deadline of Wednesday, December 5. Read more and apply!

The CFPB’s summer internships: “one of the best opportunities in government”

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It’s time to recruit summer interns for our Pathways Program again. If you’re interested in the mission of the CFPB, read the full posting to learn more and apply. The original deadline was midnight on Monday, December 3. We’ve extended it to Wednesday, December 5.

The Pathways Program is a ten week summer internship program for high potential students. Students assist in a variety of operational and mission-oriented projects. They receive on-the-job training in the technical aspects of the organization’s work. What assignments you get will vary with your interest, knowledge and academic background, along with the needs of the team.

As part of the Pathways Program, you will work directly with a seasoned member of our team and make a major impact on our mission. You’ll execute projects in fields that matters to you: technology, public relations, market research, reporting & analysis, legal/enforcement, or one of various other start-up initiatives.

The recruiting team is committed to finding new, talented individuals to help the CFPB meet its current and future strategic needs. As part of that effort, the Bureau is participating in the Partnership for Public Service’s Student Ambassadors program. We’re pleased to announce our inaugural class of ambassadors: Blythe Kennedy, Vanessa Megaw, Naiema Blachard, and Tommy LaVoy. These ambassadors know what they’re talking about, too: they’re our most recent summer interns!

We asked the student ambassadors to discuss what inspired them to intern at the CFPB and why they were interested in serving as an ambassador after their service. Between now and the time the announcement closes, we’ll share their stories. Today, Vanessa shares her thoughts:

Vanessa Megaw
School: University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Program: Master’s degree in business

I love strategic planning and the development of best practices in mission-focused organizations. As a brand new agency, I thought interning at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau would be a perfect opportunity to experience the development of government processes and develop a sense of “cutting edge” administration practices. Once there, I was extremely impressed and inspired by the ubiquitous enthusiasm for creating the “best” government agency model. I also learned a lot about inherent challenges in reaching those goals. I think that the Bureau offers one of the best opportunities in government for an intern. The hands-on opportunities, cross-departmental exposure, and daily thoughtful discussions make for an incredible learning environment. Also, the CFPB mission addresses one of the most controversial and pressing problems in modern-day society, and it is a great opportunity for students to feel like they are helping to improve the situation for the American people. The CFPB deserves interns who are thoughtful, intelligent, and driven to help in the effort to make “better government” a reality.

If you’re interested in being part of our summer internship program, you have until midnight, Wednesday, December 5, to apply. To learn more and apply, check out our full announcement.

Lindsay Bacon is the part of the Talent Acquisition team of the Office of Human Capital at Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

This post was updated to reflect the extended application deadline of Wednesday, December 5. Read more and apply!

You have a right to see specialty consumer reports too

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You have the right to know what nationwide specialty consumer reporting companies are saying about you. And you’re entitled to one free report each year, just like with the traditional nationwide consumer reporting companies – Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. What’s more, nationwide specialty consumer reporting companies have to make it easy for you to get a copy of any file they keep on you – at a minimum, by providing a toll-free number for you to call and order your report. This is an important right, because if you don’t know what’s in those files, you can’t dispute any inaccuracies.

In addition to your free annual report, if you received a notice that you were denied credit, insurance, or employment or experienced another so-called “adverse action” based on a consumer report, you have a right to another free report from the consumer reporting company identified in the notice. To get the additional free report you must request it within 60 days after you receive the notice. Other types of “adverse action” notices you might receive include notice of an unfavorable change in the terms or amount of your credit or insurance coverage, or unfavorable changes in the terms of your employment or of a license or other government benefit.

That’s exactly what we said to nationwide specialty consumer reporting companies in a bulletin we sent out today. Under federal law, they must give you an easy way to get a free copy of your report every 12 months.

So what exactly are nationwide specialty consumer reporting companies and how do they affect you?

These are companies that collect information on a nationwide basis about medical records or payments, residential or tenant history, check-writing history, employment history, or insurance claims. Like the three largest nationwide consumer reporting companies (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion), they gather and report information about you to creditors, landlords, insurance companies, employers, and others.

You can order reports – including your annual free reports – from Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion at annualcreditreport.com – and we recommend that you check your report with each company at least once per year. But you will have to order the specialty consumer reports individually from each reporting company.

To help you access specialty and other consumer reports, we created a list of approximately 40 companies, with the companies’ websites and toll-free telephone numbers. The type of information collected may vary by the company and its specialty industry.

The list includes both the three largest nationwide consumer reporting companies and a longer list of other companies that have identified themselves as consumer reporting companies or provide consumers access to their consumer reports. Not all companies are required to provide a free copy of your annual report, although under federal law all consumer reporting companies must provide you with a copy of your report for a reasonable fee. Please consult the list for further details.

You may not need to check with every single specialty company on the list. Different companies collect information about different things: your medical records or payments, residential or tenant history, check-writing history, employment history, or insurance claims. Many may not even have any information about you. But you may want to check with some or all of these companies:

  • If you were a victim of identity theft or think someone may have fraudulently cashed checks using your bank account.
  • Before applying for insurance.
  • Before applying for a lease.
  • If you’ve applied for a new job and your potential new employer asks for your written authorization to get a report.

Tip: Look for and fix mistakes. Errors in your consumer reports, or fraud caused by identity theft, can make borrowing more expensive, or prevent you from getting credit, insurance, a lease, or a new job.

You’ll also want to make sure the information is up to date.

SUBMIT A COMPLAINT

You can now submit complaints about consumer reporting agencies to us.
If you believe that there’s incorrect information on your consumer report, start by filing a dispute with the consumer reporting company and getting a response directly from the credit reporting company itself. You can also file a dispute with the company that furnished the information to the consumer reporting company.

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

RELATED RESOURCES

Check your credit report at least once a year.

Ask CFPB for more information about credit reports and credit reporting companies.

Proposed changes to the remittance rule and an extension of rule’s effective date

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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.

Today we issued a bulletin explaining that we intend to propose certain limited adjustments to our rule on international money transfers, as well as a brief extension of the date the rule would become effective.

Some regulated entities identified issues that pose practical challenges in implementing the new law. To address these issues, next month we will propose a narrow set of changes to the remittance rule. We’ll work on a fast track to finalize changes to the rule. The proposed changes would improve implementation of the new law while keeping the important new protections for consumers intended by the Dodd-Frank Act.

The proposed changes will address what should happen if a consumer provides an incorrect account number for a transfer and how remittance providers must disclose certain third-party fees and foreign taxes. Read the bulletin for more detail about the proposed changes.

These proposed changes to the remittance rule are designed to help companies successfully implement the rule’s valuable new protections for consumers. We expect to propose extending the effective date of the rule until 90 days after we issue a final rule on these issues because we recognize that remittance providers may need time to make sure they’re in compliance with the rule. We’re expecting the new implementation date to be during spring 2013, and will keep you updated.

For more information, please see today’s bulletin.

Don’t take a bath on a flood-damaged car

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Hurricanes and severe storms can bring misery to a lot of people. We’ve all seen recent images of houses and cars submerged in water. Have you ever wondered what happens to those cars once the floodwater subsides?

Unfortunately, a number of them will be turning up for sale on the internet or at car lots halfway across the United States, with no mention that they were saturated in dirty water not so long ago. Although some states require disclosure of flood damage or salvage on a car title, other states do not – so you may not be able to rely on the car title for that information. If you’re taking out a loan to buy the car, it’s important to understand the impact flood damage can have on the car’s value and consider whether it’s worth the amount you’re borrowing.

You should be a cautious buyer and check out the car carefully before you buy. (Since flood damage can be hard to spot, it’s a good idea to consider paying an expert mechanic to inspect it for you.) Below are a few simple steps you can take to help protect yourself.

    See: if there are any high-water or mud marks on the engine, the wheel wells, the trunk or even the glove box. Get a flashlight and take a look in those hard-to-reach places that might not have been cleaned. Lift up the carpet and look underneath for mud, rust or dirt.

    Smell: the upholstery and the carpeting. Do they smell funky? Also, turn on the heat and see if there’s an electric/burning smell that might come from damaged wires. And turn on the AC and see if you get a blast of mildew-scented air.

    Feel: the wires under the dashboard and in the engine (obviously when the car is turned off!). Do they feel brittle? That may be the result of immersion in water.

    Listen: to the sound system/radio. If it sounds bad or isn’t working at all, that could be a sign of water damage. Ask why it’s not working.

    Ask: the seller outright if the car was ever in a flood. While they may not have volunteered the information, they may be reluctant to lie when asked directly.

    Consider: buying a vehicle history report that should tell you if the car’s been in a flood or issued a salvage title.

Realize: this isn’t just an issue of a bad-smelling car. Floods can damage vital parts of a car like the air bag system, brakes, and electrical system – and the damage may not show up right away. Your safety could be at risk if you are unknowingly riding around in a flood-damaged car.

Buying a car is one of the biggest consumer purchases you’ll make. Don’t put your hard-earned money into a flood-damaged lemon. Once you’ve signed the contract you’re committed, so Know Before You Owe!

You can find more information from the U.S. Department of Justice and from the Federal Trade Commission’s about buying a used car and hurricane recovery.