I was startled to notice that the government’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is celebrating its four-year anniversary —the fifth if you count it’s unofficial start while Congress was still wrangling over it.
The CFPB was established in response to the financial crisis of 2008, on the premise that a single agency should be looking out for consumers in the financial marketplace. I conducted an exclusive interview with President Obama about the brand new agency in 2010. I sat for another exclusive with CFPB Director Richard Cordray when he was finally confirmed in 2013.
So I’ve always been hyper aware of the agency, but it turns out most Americans are not. At one point the U.S. Chamber of Commerce conducted a survey that found 68 percent of U.S. adults knew little or nothing about the CFPB. The poll was meant as a body slam, with the Chamber arguing that Americans were “wary of its broad powers, unaccountability to Congress, and direct funding outside the budget process.”
But there’s another way to look at it. Regardless of your politics, if a government agency exists, the bureaucrats there for work us and we should take advantage of their services. In my 20 career as a consumer reporter I’ve found that wronged consumers tend to contact the Better Business Bureau (which, contrary to popular belief, is not a government agency), expensive lawyers, and yes, TV reporters before they contact the government consumer protection agencies put in place to help them. Oh, and did I mention that government assistance is FREE?
So tap into what your tax dollars are paying for if you have a problem with a financial product or service. The CFPB has a page just for taking in your consumer complaints. According to that page, these are some of the problem spots the CFPB is prepared to tackle for you:
•Other consumer loans
•Other financial services
After you file a complaint, the CFPB demands a response from the company you’re complaining about and presses for a resolution within 60 days. Does it always work? No, but here are some of what the CFPB says are its best success stories. Hopefully your case can be added to the list. Let me know via my Facebook page if you've had a good or bad experience with the CFPB.