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THE CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION BUREAU: THE CONSUMERS ALLY IN ENFORCING THEIR CONSUMER RIGHTS

The Consumer Financial Bureau (“CFPB”) arose in the aftermath of the 2008 economic crisis (the “Great Recession”), as a response to what was perceived to be over-reaching by the consumer finance industry.  While various legal protections existed prior to the creation of the CFPB, such as CARD (Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act), RESPA (Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act), and the FDCPA (Fair Debt Collection Practices Act) among others, prosecution of any violations was dependent upon the consumer.  While the CFPB cannot bring civil actions on behalf of consumers to obtain damages, it can investigate and penalize conduct which is in violation of state or federal law.

The CFPB also provides educational information to assist consumers in managing their personal finances.  In addition, it also collects information from consumers that can be used as part of its educational mission, or to build a case against lenders which may not be complying with the law or their particular contracts.  Even if a consumer has resolved the problem themselves, they can still share the story on the CFPB website to serve both the educational and enforcement missions with the bureau.  The website for the CFPB is consumerfinance.gov, and reports can be submitted online.  In addition, consumers can call the CFPB at (855) 411-2372.  If you intend to file a complaint, make sure that you retain any records that may be necessary to assist the CFPB in identifying the problem.

While this is not an exhaustive list, the CFPB can assist consumers in the following areas:

1)      Credit card disputes;

2)      Personal loans;

3)      Mortgage loans and modifications;

4)      Foreclosure abuses;

5)      Fair debt collection abuses.

Keep in mind that the CFPB cannot stop a legal proceeding pending against a consumer, such as a lawsuit, garnishment, repossession or foreclosure.  In these instances, you would certainly want to consult with a bankruptcy attorney, like the offices of Leiden & Leiden in Augusta GA, to see how you may protect your rights and property.  But if you feel that a certain consumer creditor has breached their obligations or violated the law, take the opportunity to file a complaint with the CFPB and make your voice heard.