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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

We’ve heard more than 300,000 complaints. Should we hear from you?

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We first began accepting complaints in July 2011 and as of this week – less than 3 years later – we’ve handled more than 300,000 complaints. That means when hundreds of thousands of people had a problem with a financial product or service, they came to us, and we worked to get them a response.

What kinds of complaints do you accept?

We accept complaints about a range of consumer financial products and services. If you have a problem with debt collection, credit reporting, payday loans, student loans, other consumer loans, money transfers, mortgages, or bank accounts and services, submitting a complaint is simple and secure.

How can I submit a complaint?

The fastest way to get started is to go consumerfinance.gov/complaint. If you need help while you’re online, you can chat with one of our team members on the site. You can also submit a complaint over the phone by calling us at (855) 411-CFPB (2372), toll free. We can handle calls in over 180 languages and accommodate people who are hearing or speech impaired.

What happens after I submit?

After you’ve submitted your complaint you can check its status online or by calling us at (855) 411-CFPB (2372). We’ll also send you email updates along the way so you know where you are in the process, and what’s next. After the company responds to your complaint, we’ll email you, and you can log back in to review the response and give us any feedback.

Every complaint helps us in our work to supervise companies, enforce federal consumer financial laws, and write better rules and regulations. You speaking up gives us important insight into the issues you face as a consumer, so thank you!

You can see what other consumers are complaining about in our public Consumer Complaint Database. If you think you’ve found something interesting in the consumer complaint data, we definitely want to hear about it. Don’t forget to share your work, from visualizations to new tools, by tweeting @CFPB and using #CFPBdata.

More tools for Spanish speakers

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Leer en Español

Many people struggle to understand consumer financial products and services. These struggles can be compounded by language barriers, and can make some populations prime targets for exploitation. Recognizing these challenges, we wanted to provide our Spanish-speaking audience with access to clear, unbiased information about financial products and services.

Therefore, today we are unveiling consumerfinance.gov/es.

On consumerfinance.gov/es, you can find answers, in plain-language Spanish, to consumers’ most common questions. It’s also our first responsive site – it works beautifully on mobile devices as well as on desktops – in response to research that shows two-thirds of Latinos who are online tend to access the Internet from a mobile device. And this is just the beginning – we want to continue to expand to include more resources and tools in languages other than English so that we can reach as many people as effectively as possible.

In all of our efforts, hearing from the public is critical in assessing how best to use our tools to improve the workings of consumer financial markets.

We take complaints in Spanish, as well as more than 180 other languages, over the telephone, at 855-411-CFPB (2372). We want everyone, regardless of which language they speak, to know that they have a place to turn when they have a problem with a consumer financial product or service.

The customer may not always be right, but the customer always deserves to have someone who will take the time to listen and, where justified and appropriate, do something about it.