By Dr. Marian McClure Taylor
I recently received a call from Richard Cordray, Director of theConsumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). What I learned is timely at any point in the year, but especially at year's end when families are stretching themselves financially.
The CFPB, which opened its doors in 2011 following passage of Wall Street reform, is the first federal agency devoted to consumer protection in the financial marketplace. Director Cordray explained that the central mission of the CFPB is to make markets for consumer financial products and services work for all Americans. That includes mortgages, credit cards, student loans, payday loans, auto loans, bank accounts, credit reporting, debt collection, international money transfers and more.
Director Cordray described his appreciation for the role communities of faith play in building neighborhoods, supporting members, and when necessary, caring for people experiencing financial trouble. He echoed what many of us know: that communities of faith often serve as "first responders" when it comes to the financial security of families. At the level of state-wide organizations such as the Kentucky Council of Churches, faith communities also ask legislators and regulators for better policies to protect people and means of recourse for people who are harmed by predatory practices in the marketplace.
As a leader in churches and/or charitable service agencies, you might very well find yourself in situations where you could help people by sharing information about the interactive tools the CFPB has developed. These tools exist to help consumers get clear, unbiased answers to their financial questions and to get help when necessary.
Below are links to the CFPB's web-based resources. Please share these. Some of the resources are designed to help families avoid or prevent financial mistakes. Others are for when the problem already exists.
Foremost among these is a groundbreaking consumer complaint system, where the CFPB can help anyone having trouble with a financial institution. Director Cordray said that more than 300,000 American consumers have already made use of this system.
You'll also notice item #7 is a link to an order form for free CFPB materials, which can be handed out in houses of worship or anywhere else.
By reaching out to faith communities as he is doing, Richard Cordray is both complimenting us and challenging us. God's blessings on you and your churches and organizations as you work to assist so many people who are struggling to get by on limited resources or who get in over their heads with financial dealings. May you find the resources listed below helpful as you do that.
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Resources
You may view all these resources at www.consumerfinance.gov.
- To file a complaint about consumer financial products or services (mortgages, credit cards, student loans, bank accounts, credit reporting, auto loans, debt collection, payday loans, money transfers, and more), visit the CFPB Consumer Response Center at www.consumerfinance.gov/complaint or call 855-411-CFPB. The CFPB call center offers assistance in 189 languages.
- To share a story - positive or negative - about a consumer financial product or service, visit "Tell Your Story" at https://help.consumerfinance.gov/app/tellyourstory
- To find answers to questions about consumer finance, visit "Ask CFPB" at www.consumerfinance.gov/askcfpb
- To make informed decisions about paying for college, from comparing costs to repaying student debt, visit "Paying for College" at http://www.consumerfinance.gov/payingforcollege
- To learn how to prevent elder financial exploitation and to view easy-to-understand booklets to help financial caregivers for older Americans, visit http://www.consumerfinance.gov/older-americans/
- To learn about financial resources and financial protection for servicemembers (armed forces), visit http://www.consumerfinance.gov/servicemembers/
- To order free CFPB publications in bulk for distribution to consumers, visit http://promotions.usa.gov/cfpbpubs.html
- To find the CFPB's Federal Register notices, as well as to read and submit public comments related to CFPB rulemakings, visit http://www.consumerfinance.gov/notice-and-comment/
- To view the CFPB website in Spanish, visit http://www.consumerfinance.gov/es/
- To connect with the CFPB on social media:
- Blog: http://www.consumerfinance.gov/blog/
- Twitter: @CFPB
- Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/CFPB
- YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/cfpbvideo
- Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cfpbphotos
You also may find many more resources at www.consumerfinance.gov