American Money: All About the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Find out about federal resources and protections for consumers.

Posted: 07/24/2013 05:13 PM EDT

This month marks the third anniversary of the enactment of Dodd-Frank, which Congress passed to help protect our nation from another Great Recession. A crucial component of the act was the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), an agency formed to counteract decades upon decades of financial deregulation that left our economy increasingly vulnerable. 

The federal watchdog agency protects consumers by enforcing fairness and transparency around financial products and services, providing information around numerous topics such as financial scams, predatory lending, mortgages and college loans.

This month marks another key milestone for the CFPB.  After 730 days of partisan acrimony, the CFPB finally got its official leader in the form of Richard Cordray.  Cordray brings years of experience targeting predatory financial institutions and fighting for consumer rights. When serving as Ohio attorney general, he took on Wall Street and recovered $2 billion on behalf of Ohio’s retirees, investors and business owners.

With Cordray confirmed, the CFPB can begin to fully implement its services.  These services include helping people who have trouble paying their mortgage who may be facing foreclosure.  These borrowers can seek out free help from a counselor approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development by contacting the number provided on the site. The counselor can organize your finances and create a plan to help you work with your mortgage company.

You can also submit a complaint if you have a problem with a mortgage company. While this won’t guarantee that your foreclosure will be delayed or stopped, the complaint will be published in the agency’s complaint database, and the agency will follow up with the company to get an answer about your case.

Additionally, the agency provides extensive resources for students who have questions around paying for college. For instance, students can use its sophisticated financial aid calculator that help compare financial aid offers from different schools while taking their tuition and other costs into account. By plugging in your financial offer from each school, you can see what your monthly loan payments would be after graduation. The site also enables you to look up statistics that shows how likely it is for borrowers from your school to default on their loans.

The agency also has an informative page on credit discrimination that lists your rights as a consumer, warning signs of credit discrimination, and additional advice around consumer empowerment to help you protect yourself from unscrupulous lenders.

Along with complaints, consumers can also submit their personal stories and experiences around consumer financial products to help inform the agency how to better protect and empower consumers.

Cordray’s confirmation has ended a three-year fight to undermine the new agency’s authority. Under his leadership, consumers can expect the newly empowered agency to provide more robust services to protect the citizens of Main Street.

Dedrick Asante- Muhammad is the senior director of the NAACP Economic Programs. To learn more about preventing foreclosure and personal finance, check out the NAACP Financial Freedom Center Facebook Page or on Twitter @naacpecon.

The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks. 

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(Photo: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau)

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