The CFPB was created in the wake of the financial crisis to stand up for people and make sure banks, lenders, and other financial companies treat you fairly. Since opening our doors six years ago, we have handled consumer complaints about problems with financial companies, created new protections for people using financial products and services, held bad actors accountable for breaking the law, and provided new resources to help you make informed financial decisions to reach your own life goals.
1. Our actions have resulted in nearly $12 billion in relief for more than 29 million harmed consumers.
We’ve worked to stamp out illegal practices in the marketplace by supervising financial companies and enforcing consumer protections. One of the many ways we’ve gotten relief for consumers is by taking action against banks for opening deposit and credit card accounts without consumers’ authorization and for charging overdraft fees to consumers who had not agreed to overdraft services. We also took action against student loan servicers for illegal servicing practices, and against credit card companies for misleading consumers into buying useless or unwanted add-on products and services.
2. We’ve handled more than 1.2 million consumer complaints.
You have the right to speak up when you have a problem with a financial product or service. You can submit a complaint to us and we will work to get you a response from the company. Since we opened our doors, we’ve handled over 1.2 million complaints from people around the country about problems with their credit cards, bank accounts, credit reports, mortgages, prepaid cards, and more. We also publish complaints to amplify consumers’ voices and improve the consumer financial marketplace. Our online Consumer Complaint Database is the nation’s largest public collection of consumer financial complaints.
3. We put in place strong protections for prepaid account consumers.
You can generally use prepaid products to make payments, store funds, get cash at ATMs, receive direct deposits, or send funds to other people. Our new prepaid rule requires financial institutions to limit peoples’ losses for stolen funds or lost cards, investigate and resolve errors, and give people free and easy access to account information. For many people, prepaid accounts are an alternative to traditional bank accounts. Currently, consumers have only limited federal protections when using these kinds of accounts.
4. We issued a rule that will ban financial companies from using arbitration clauses that deny groups of consumers their day in court.
Many consumer financial products like credit cards and bank accounts have arbitration clauses in their contracts that make it nearly impossible for groups of people to take companies to court when things go wrong. Mandatory arbitration clauses that block group lawsuits are bad for consumers. They allow companies to avoid accountability by forcing people to give up or go it alone—usually over small amounts not worth pursuing. By sidestepping the courts, companies can avoid paying out big refunds and continue harmful practices. Our arbitration rule will soon ban financial companies from using mandatory arbitration clauses to deny groups of people their day in court.
5. We’ve put rules in place to make the mortgage market safer for consumers.
We created new "back-to-basics" mortgage rules to address the mortgage practices that contributed to the financial crisis. Our new rules protect people at every stage of the process—from shopping for a loan, to closing on a mortgage, to paying it back. Our ability-to-repay rule protects people from dangerous lending practices by requiring lenders to determine that their customers can actually afford to pay back the mortgages they are offered. Our mortgage servicing rules protect people from surprises and runarounds while paying back their mortgage, and provide additional protections for homeowners who fall behind on their mortgage payments.
6. We’ve empowered millions of consumers with information to navigate financial choices.
Consumers have the right to clear, reliable information about financial products and services so they can make informed financial decisions. Our "Know Before You Owe" initiative is making information about mortgages, student loans, auto loans, prepaid accounts, and other financial products and services more understandable to consumers. Our website, consumerfinance.gov, offers individuals answers to hundreds of common questions about financial products in Ask CFPB, as well as web tools to help you navigate the financial parts of big life decisions such as paying for college, getting a car loan, borrowing to buy a house, and retiring.
If you’re interested in reading more about different aspects of our work, we have factsheets that can help you: