The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was created in the wake of the financial meltdown to stand up for consumers, make sure they’re treated fairly, and restore trust in the consumer financial marketplace.
Our focus is on making financial markets work for American consumers — whether they’re applying for a mortgage, borrowing for college, choosing a credit card, or using any number of other consumer financial products.
We officially opened our doors on July 21, 2011 — three years ago today. Since then, we’ve used a range of tools in our toolbox to protect consumers: writing rules of the road, supervising and enforcing those rules, responding to consumer complaints, and much more.
Helping consumers help themselves
When we opened in 2011, we immediately launched a system to collect consumer complaints. Since then, we have handled over 400,000 complaints in multiple languages about credit cards, mortgages, bank accounts and services, student loans, credit reporting, money transfers, debt collection, payday loans, vehicle and other consumer loans – and most recently, prepaid cards.
In many cases we’re able to get people some relief – either money back or things like correcting their credit report or stopping harassing phone calls by debt collectors. Our Consumer Complaint Database allows you to see what consumers complained about and why, as well as how and when the company in question responds.
We’ve developed many other consumer resources too, including:
- Ask CFPB, a database with answers to more than 1000 common financial questions
- Know Before You Owe, a campaign to make costs and risks of products clearer
- Student loan resources for students, families, and high school and college staff
- Mortgage resources for homeowners, homebuyers, and housing counselors
- Managing money guides for caregivers of older Americans
- Consumer protection resources for servicemembers
- Financial education guides on a wide range of consumer products and services
Establishing strong consumer protections
Risky mortgage lending contributed to the crash of the American economy, and shoddy mortgage servicing practices compounded the misery by pushing many consumers into foreclosure. Since opening our doors, we’ve been hard at work establishing new, common-sense mortgage rules to protect consumers at every stage of the process – from shopping for a loan, to closing on a mortgage, to paying it back. These rules represent a back-to-basics approach to the mortgage market.
We’ve also written rules with new protections for consumers of money transfers and credit cards, as well as new rules to supervise larger nonbank debt collectors, credit reporting agencies, and student loan servicers for the first time at the federal level.
In the years ahead, we’ll be shifting to focus on rules that root out deception, debt traps, and dead ends across markets. The goal is a marketplace where the costs and risks are clear, and no consumer is harmed by unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts or practices.
Enforcing consumer protection laws
In addition to providing consumer resources and writing rules, we enforce federal consumer financial protection laws and work to hold bad actors accountable for their actions. To date, our enforcement actions have resulted in $4.6 billion in relief for roughly 15 million consumers harmed by illegal practices.
Through our credit card enforcement actions, we’ve returned nearly $1.8 billion to millions of consumers harmed by deceptive marketing and enrollment, unfair billing, and discriminatory credit card practices. In mortgage servicing, we’ve ordered $2.6 billion in relief for consumers harmed by systematic misconduct by mortgage servicers. We’ve also taken action against firms illegally taking advantage of consumers struggling with debt, helping other companies collect illegal fees from consumers, and using predatory or deceptive lending and debt collection practices.
With our full set of tools, we’re looking to create a marketplace where costs and risks are clear, and no consumer is harmed by unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts or practices.
Thanks to so many of you for your birthday wishes. Time for us to blow out the candles and get back to work!