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We participated in the National Day of Civic Hacking 2015

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Coders, technology enthusiasts, economists, teachers, high school students, and entrepreneurs joined representatives from eight government agencies for the third annual National Day of Civic Hacking on June 6. During this collaborative event, a diverse group of citizens worked together to tackle complex problems facing our communities using technology and publicly released data.

We participated in multiple National Day of Civic Hacking events this year, with CFPB staff attending events in Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Oakland, Calif. and Burlington, Vt. During the event, participants provided input on our CFPB Owning a Home website and analyzed our public Consumer Complaint Database and our public Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) Database.

Kimberly Munoz, a front-end web developer, participated in one of Oakland’s many events, contributing to the OpenOakland project. She also introduced participants with a data science background to the CFPB public Consumer Complaint Database in hopes of inspiring more grassroots use of the CFPB’s open data.

Catherine Farman, a front-end developer, attended Code for Philly’s event. Catherine is working on our Owning a Home project to convert a budgeting PDF to a web application that is flexible and is able to fit in any screen.

We hope to connect with other communities interested in engaging with our public databases. We believe there are opportunities for coders, developers, and others with strong technical prowess to build innovative tools and applications that can enable consumers to live better financial lives.

Got a cool data project to share? Just tweet at @cfpb with #CFPBdata. You can also follow us on GitHub.

You have the right to free, unbiased financial information

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CFPB - Four years working for you

If you are confused and lost when you are shopping for a mortgage or when you are figuring out how to pay for college, you are not alone. If you wish you had a financial expert to turn to for trustworthy guidance about paying off debts, or opening a credit card, you are not alone.

If you believe you have the right to free, unbiased financial information, you are not alone – because at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, we agree.

It’s our job to provide you with reliable, trustworthy information about the consumer financial marketplace. So, in the past four years we’ve worked hard creating online tools to inform your financial decisions that are truly free – no charges, no ads, no referral fees.

Three financial tools you can trust

Owning a Home helps you understand one of the most important financial decisions you’re likely to make: getting a mortgage. It explains the complex options you have when shopping for a mortgage loan, for example whether to consider a fixed rate or an adjustable rate. It lets you play around with different factors to see how they affect interest rates. You can also find an easy to use checklist for the closing process that will prepare you to sign on the dotted line.

Paying for College helps students, students-to-be, and their parents compare financial aid packages. For people paying off student loans, Repay Student Debt, a part of the tool, helps you understand your options for repayment, gives you resources to avoid missing payments, and offers helpful resources if you’ve defaulted on your loan. You’ll find a sample letter you can send to student loan servicers (the companies that send you a bill each month), and tips on how to communicate with debt collectors.

In Ask CFPB, you’ll find expert answers to more than 1,000 questions about financial products and services including student loans, credit cards, mortgages, credit scores, credit reporting, getting out of debt, and more. Over four million people have found reliable and unbiased answers to common questions, and we’re adding and improving questions all the time thanks to your feedback. You can rate each Ask CFPB question, letting us know if the answer was helpful, too long, incorrect or confusing. You can also submit questions you think would be good additions to the collection.

We will continue to add more features to our tools, create new tools for other major financial decisions, and make sure our resources stay up-to-date as we and other government agencies update rules. Try out our tools, send us your feedback, and share them with your friends.

When key financial decisions arise in your life, you are not alone. You can trust that our tools and resources will provide you with accurate, unbiased information so you can make the financial decisions you believe are best for you and your family.

You have the right to be heard

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CFPB - Four years working for you

For over four years, William was on the hook for over $8,000 worth of credit card debt he didn’t owe. His credit plummeted, debt collectors called him constantly, and when he tried to refinance his home, his application was denied. Then, he learned about the CFPB and submitted a complaint. Within a week, the debt collection attempts stopped.

“Just to have the situation resolved… that just felt good.” William said. “In a situation for me that was seemingly endless and hopeless, the CFPB helped me to find a resolution.”

We’ve handled more than 163,000 debt collection complaints. About one-third of these complaints, like William’s, were about attempts to collect on debt that the consumer asserted they didn’t owe. Since we began accepting complaints about debt collection, it’s been the most complained-about issue each month. That’s why we’re putting the spotlight on debt collection for our first monthly consumer complaint report. These monthly reports will provide a high-level snapshot of complaint trends and analysis, and we believe they can inform the public and anyone interested in the financial marketplace.

Listening to and elevating your voice matters to us because we are a federal agency devoted to protecting consumers. When you speak up, you offer invaluable insight into the financial products and services consumers depend on. Telling us about your experiences helps us to better serve you and make the financial marketplace work for Americans.

The CFPB was established in 2011, following the most severe financial crisis the US has faced since the Great Depression. In years since, we’ve made it a priority to listen to consumers and amplify their voices so that others could be inspired and empowered to take charge of their financial futures.

Over those years, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting the people we serve and have had an opportunity to hear about their experiences firsthand. As I’ve talked with people like William, I’ve seen the purpose and value in people sharing their stories, making their complaints heard, and adding to a larger and powerful conversation fueled by consumers who want to see a fairer financial marketplace.

William spoke up about his problem with debt collectors. But we’ve also heard from:

Many of these success stories started with a consumer submitting a complaint to us. If you have a problem with a financial product or service, tell us about your issue. We’ll forward your complaint to the company and work to get a response about your issue. Sometimes that response can mean fixing an error on a credit report, leaning about other student loan repayment options, or stopping debt collection calls.

Know that by coming to us you aren’t just helping yourself. Each week we send thousands of consumers’ complaints about financial products and services to companies for response. Those complaints are published in our public Consumer Complaint Database. What’s more, with your permission, we’ll publish your complaint alongside all the others we receive, joining your voice with other consumers facing similar challenges. By adding your voice to the more than 10,000 experiences in the database, you help improve the financial marketplace.

Since opening our doors four years ago, consumers like you have shared their experiences with us through more than 650,000 complaints. We’d love to hear from you, too. If you have an issue with a financial service or product, you can submit a complaint and opt to add your voice to the database.

You have the right to speak up. So join the conversation, because your story matters.

Four years working for you

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CFPB - Four years working for you
On July 21, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) will turn four years old. While our doors have only been open for a short time, our work is helping to create a financial marketplace that works for you. We’re listening to your experiences through the complaints you submit, creating new consumer protections for financial products and services, holding bad actors accountable for breaking the rules, and developing useful tools and resources to empower you to make informed financial decisions.

The CFPB was created by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act as a direct result of the financial crisis in 2008. We were created to stand up for consumers and make sure everyone is treated fairly. To us, our work is about hearing the struggles you face in the financial marketplace and empowering you to make the best financial decisions. It’s also about rooting out bad actors or bad practices that cause harm or stand between you and your financial goals.

We hear stories like that of Ari, a servicemember, and his dad Harry who were dealing with predatory auto loans, and Venida who found an error on her credit report. They are not the only ones dealing with these problems. Their stories exemplify how you can make a difference in your financial situation.

We are here to protect consumers

Your complaints and stories play an important part in our work. As of this month, we’ve handled more than 650,000 of your complaints. When you submit your complaints and tell us your stories, it helps us spot problems and risks, and work to ensure a fair financial marketplace.

The mortgage servicing rules we enacted have brought more transparency to the home-owning process, keeping your mortgage servicers from giving you runarounds or losing your documents. For those who send money out of the country, we have created rules that make sure you know how much money will actually reach your intended recipient.

We’ve also held bad actors accountable in the marketplace, securing $10.8 billion in relief to consumers who were harmed by illegal practices. Over our four years, we have taken action against credit card companies, payday lenders, banks, mortgage companies, debt collectors, and many more.

We are your resource

Just as Venida and Harry used our resources to get help in the financial marketplace, we welcome you to do the same. We have created a number of tools and resources for you to use to help avoid financial problems, plan for the future, and reach your financial goals.

Whether you’re getting ready to make big financial decisions like Paying for College or Owning a Home, or just looking for unbiased answers to financial questions about your mortgage, your credit score, or how to deal with debt collectors, we’ve got tools to help you get answers and make the best decisions for you and your family.

You have the right to fair and transparent financial products and services and we’re committed to continue working for you.

In the coming days, we’ll share more about the work we’ve done leading up to today, so stay tuned.

Updated July 21, 2015: Graphic and text updated to reflect the amount of relief to consumers who were harmed by illegal practices.

CFPB - Four years working for you infographic

Spring 2015 rulemaking agenda

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As a 21st century agency created by the Dodd-Frank Act, we’re here to make consumer finance markets work by making rules more effective, by consistently and fairly enforcing those rules, and by empowering consumers to take more control over their economic lives.

An important part of our mandate is to make rules more effective and create new rules when necessary. Today, we’re posting a semi-annual update of our rulemaking agenda as part of the federal government’s Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions.

Under the Regulatory Flexibility Act, federal agencies must publish regulatory agendas twice a year. We’ve been voluntarily participating in the Unified Agenda. The Office of Management and Budget leads this effort. The Unified Agenda is available in full online, and portions will also be published in the Federal Register. The agenda includes rulemaking actions in pre-rule, proposed rule, final rule, long-term, and completed stages.

Here’s an overview of our major initiatives.

Updates to the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA)

We’re working to finalize a proposed rule we published in August 2014 to implement Dodd-Frank Act amendments to the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA). The proposal would help align the law with existing industry standards for collecting data on mortgage loans and applications. It would also improve HMDA’s effectiveness through changes to institutional and transactional coverage, modifications of reporting requirements, and clarifications of existing regulatory provisions. We expect to release a final rule in late summer.

Truth in Lending Act (TILA) and Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) Integrated Disclosures

We also continue to focus intensely on supporting efforts to implement a rule, required by Dodd-Frank, that consolidates and streamlines federal mortgage disclosures required under TILA and RESPA. In February 2015, we issued a small follow-up rule to provide technical corrections, address the provision of language relating to new construction loans on the Loan Estimate form, and relax certain timing requirements regarding revised disclosures. We’ve provided guides and materials to help industry and consumers prepare for the changes. The rule will take effect on October 3, 2015.

Follow-up on other mortgage rules

We’re also continuing to work with stakeholders to address questions about rules we released in January 2013 to implement various Dodd-Frank Act mortgage reforms. Among other efforts, we’re issuing clarifications and amendments as warranted. For example, we’re working to finalize a proposal we published in February 2015 to modify certain requirements for small creditors, including those that operate predominantly in “rural or underserved” areas. We expect to issue a final rule in fall 2015.

We also published a larger proposal in December 2014 to amend certain aspects of the 2013 mortgage servicing rules. The proposed rule would affect disclosures, early intervention, and loss mitigation. The proposal also addresses compliance with the rules when a consumer is a potential or confirmed successor in interest, is in bankruptcy, or sends a cease communication request under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). We expect to issue a final rule in spring 2016.

Prepaid financial products

We’re finalizing a proposal we published in December 2014 that would create comprehensive consumer protections for a range of prepaid financial products, including general-purpose reloadable prepaid cards and certain digital and mobile wallets. Under the proposal, prepaid accounts would receive certain protections that are similar to those that exist now for debit and payroll cards. The protections relate to, among other things:

  • Error resolution
  • Limitations on liability when a card is lost or stolen
  • The provision of information about account activity.

We also proposed general credit card protections to prepaid products that access overdraft services or offer credit features for a fee. Under the proposal, these products would be treated generally as credit cards under TILA and Regulation Z. The proposal would include:

  • Requirements that creditors assess consumers’ ability to repay before extending them credit
  • Fee limitations in the first year of account opening
  • Certain rules regarding payment periods and processing
  • Specific disclosures before a consumer acquires a prepaid account.

We expect to issue a final rule in early 2016.

Payday, auto title, and certain other loans

We recently released an outline of proposals we’re considering in connection with regulating payday loans, auto-title loans, and certain other longer-term credit products. We consulted with a panel of small lenders, under the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act, who may be affected by the rulemaking. We’ve also published research on payday lending and so-called deposit advance products, including an April 2013 white paper and a March 2014 data point. We plan to issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking later this year after completing additional outreach and analysis.

Overdrafts

We’re continuing to analyze issues relating to overdraft services on checking accounts. Our analysis builds on a June 2013 white paper and a July 2014 report . We’re conducting additional research and assessing whether rulemaking is warranted.

Larger participants

We continue to issue rules implementing our supervisory program for certain nonbank entities by defining “larger participants” in various markets for consumer financial products and services. We expect to finalize a proposal early this summer to define “larger participants” in the market for auto lending. This will build on previous rules defining larger participants in the markets for debt collection, credit reporting, student loan servicing, and international money transfers.

Debt collection

We are developing proposed rules concerning debt collection. Last year, we received more than 23,000 comments in response to an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. In developing our proposal, we’re surveying consumers about their experiences with debt collectors. We’re also engaged in consumer testing initiatives to determine what information would be useful for consumers to have about debt collection and their debts, and to determine how that information should be provided to them.

Arbitration

We’re following up on research we conducted under the Dodd-Frank Act concerning the use of arbitration agreements involving consumer financial products or services. We issued a preliminary report in December 2013 and a report to Congress in March 2015. We’re now evaluating feedback we received and considering whether rules governing arbitration clauses may be warranted.

We’re continuing research, analysis, and outreach on a number of other consumer financial services markets, and we’ll update our next semi-annual agenda in the fall.

Updated on July 27, 2015 to include the new effective date of October 3, 2015 for the Know Before You Owe disclosure rule.

Three years of standing up for consumers

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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.

Here’s a look at our work so far by the numbers.

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:

Here’s more about our efforts to help consumers help themselves.

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.

Here’s more on our efforts to write rules that establish strong consumer protections.

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.

Here’s more on our enforcement of consumer protection laws.

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!

Three years of standing up for consumers