Archive for the ‘Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’ Category

Consumer advisory: Co-signers can cause surprise defaults on your private student loans

April 22, 2014 Comments off

Consumer advisory: Co-signers can cause surprise defaults on your private student loans
Source: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Today, we released a report that describes complaints we received related to the private student loan industry’s practice of placing borrowers in default even when their loans are current and in good standing. We’re also warning consumers that they can avoid surprise defaults by pursuing a co-signer release.

The vast majority of private student loans today have a co-signer (typically a parent or a grandparent). Having a co-signer can often lead to a lower interest rate, which can save you money in the long-term, because the co-signer will have to repay the loan if you don’t.

However, your loan might also contain provisions that allow your student loan servicer to put you in default — even if you’ve been making your payments on time.

That’s because your co-signer is also on the hook for your loan and therefore changes in their behavior can impact your loan, causing your loan to default and making your entire balance due all at once. We’ve received complaints that private student loan servicers are placing borrowers into default when their co-signer dies or files for bankruptcy.

About these ads

Explainer: Federal student loan interest rates to jump

April 18, 2014 Comments off

Explainer: Federal student loan interest rates to jump
Source: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Right now, many students and families across the country are receiving financial aid offers and deciding how to pay for college. Most students will need to shop for student loans now, and some of you have asked us what the new rates will be. While rates aren’t set in stone yet, interest rates on new federal student loans are expected to jump this July.

We’ve updated our Paying for College tool using our best guess of what the rates will be, so you can have a better estimate of what your monthly payment might be after graduation.

Interest rates on most federal student loans are based on a certain type of bond that the Treasury Department issues, known as the ten-year note. The yield is the rate at which investors charge the federal government for borrowing money. Next month, there will be a Treasury bond auction, and that rate will set federal student loan interest rates.

CFPB Orders Bank Of America To Pay $727 Million In Consumer Relief For Illegal Credit Card Practices

April 9, 2014 Comments off

CFPB Orders Bank Of America To Pay $727 Million In Consumer Relief For Illegal Credit Card Practices
Source: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has ordered Bank of America, N.A. and FIA Card Services, N.A. to provide an estimated $727 million in relief to consumers harmed by practices related to credit card add-on products. Roughly 1.4 million consumers were affected by Bank of America’s deceptive marketing of their add-on products. Bank of America also illegally charged approximately 1.9 million consumer accounts for credit monitoring and credit reporting services that they were not receiving. Bank of America will pay a $20 million civil money penalty to the CFPB.

CRS — The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB): A Legal Analysis (updated)

April 3, 2014 Comments off

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB): A Legal Analysis (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via University of North Texas Digital Library)

In the wake of the worst U.S. financial crisis since the Great Depression, Congress passed and the President signed into law sweeping reforms of the financial services regulatory system through the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank Act), P.L. 111- 203. Title X of the Dodd-Frank Act is entitled the Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010 (CFP Act). The CFP Act establishes the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (CFPB or Bureau) within the Federal Reserve System (FRS) with rulemaking, enforcement, and supervisory powers over many consumer financial products and services, as well as the entities that sell them.

The CFP Act substantially, though not completely, consolidates in the CFPB federal consumer protection powers that previously were held by seven other regulators. It has the authority to write rules to implement a broad array of federal consumer financial protection laws, as well as most consumer compliance supervisory and enforcement powers over larger depositories. However, the CFPB did not acquire from the banking regulators the primary supervisory and enforcement powers over smaller depositories. The Bureau also wields new federal consumer financial protection powers to regulate nondepository financial institutions, which previously were largely unregulated at the federal level. However, the CFP Act wholly exempts certain nondepository financial institutions from the Bureau’s regulatory reach and curtails the CPFB’s authority to regulate others.

FRB OIG — The CFPB Can Improve the Efficiency and Effectiveness of Its Supervisory Activities

April 3, 2014 Comments off

The CFPB Can Improve the Efficiency and Effectiveness of Its Supervisory Activities (PDF)
Source: Federal Reserve Board, Office of Inspector General

Since it began operations in July 2011, the CFPB has made significant progress toward developing and implementing a comprehensive supervision program for depository and nondepository institutions. The agency has implemented this program on a nationwide basis across its four regional offices. While we recognize the considerable efforts associated with the initial development and implementation of the program, we believe that the CFPB can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of its supervisory activities.

Specifically, we found that the CFPB needs to (1) improve its reporting timeliness and reduce the number of examination reports that have not been issued, (2) adhere to its unequivocal standards concerning the use of standard compliance rating definitions in its examination reports, and (3) update its policies and procedures to reflect current practices.

We completed our fieldwork in October 2013, using data as of July 31, 2013. Following the completion of our fieldwork, senior CFPB officials indicated that management has taken various measures to address certain findings in our report, including streamlining the report review process and reducing the number of examination reports that have not been issued. As part of our future follow-up activities, we will assess whether these actions, as well as the planned actions described in management’s response, address our findings and recommendations.

CFPB data point: Payday lending

March 25, 2014 Comments off

CFPB data point: Payday lending
Source: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Our data point reports are prepared by our Office of Research to provide an evidence-based perspective on consumer financial markets, consumer behavior, and regulations to inform the public discourse. This first data point provides detailed analysis of consumers’ use of payday loans with a focus on loan sequences, the series of loans borrowers often take out following a new loan.

CFPB — Complaints received from servicemembers, veterans, and their families

March 7, 2014 Comments off

Complaints received from servicemembers, veterans, and their families (PDF)
Source: Consumer Financial Protection Board
From blog post:

14,100. Sounds like a random number, doesn’t it? But to us, 14,100 represents the number of servicemembers, veterans and their family members whose stories have come to us through their consumer complaints.

I emphasize the word “stories” because each complaint is much more than a case number. Behind those case numbers are servicemembers with questions about mortgages, military spouses seeking to invoke consumer legal protections on behalf of their deployed spouse, veterans desperately fighting scams that threaten to steal their retirement income, and many more members of the military community with compelling, sometimes heartbreaking, real-life stories.

In the Snapshot of complaints received from servicemembers, veterans, and their families that we’re releasing today, you’ll find the types and trends of military consumer complaints that the CFPB has handled since opening our doors in July 2011. We have received complaints from all 50 states and from all branches and ranks of the military. Our complaint volume increased 148 percent from 2012 to 2013 as we spread the word about the resources that we provide to the military community. Mortgages continue to top the cumulative volume of complaints handled to date.

However, newer categories of complaints we began accepting last year, such as debt collection and payday loans, have climbed steadily and now factor prominently into our complaint totals. In fact, since we began taking debt collection complaints in July 2013, debt collection has quickly become the highest volume complaint category for military consumers over the last seven months. Within the report you will find a breakdown of the complaints by product as well as the top issues within each product for military consumers.

CRS — Privacy Protection for Customer Financial Information

January 24, 2014 Comments off

Privacy Protection for Customer Financial Information (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

One of the functions transferred to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) under P.L. 111-203, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank), is authority to issue regulations and take enforcement actions under the two major federal statutes that specify conditions under which customer financial information may be shared by financial institutions: Title V of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999 (GLBA, P.L. 106-102) and the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Possible topics for congressional oversight in the 113th Congress include (1) the transition of power from the financial institution prudential regulators and the Federal Trade Commission to the CFPB; (2) CFPB’s interaction with other federal regulators and coordination with state enforcement efforts; and (3) the CFPB’s success at issuing rules that adequately protect consumers without unreasonably increasing the regulatory burden on financial institutions.

New CFPB Mortgage Rules

January 11, 2014 Comments off

New CFPB Mortgage Rules (PDF)
Source: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Beginning in January 2014, some new CFPB rules will provide homeowners and consumers shopping for a home mortgage with new rights and greater protection from harmful practices. These rules should eliminate or sharply reduce the runarounds and painful surprises that hurt so many homeowners during and after the financial crisis.

+ Here’s what the new mortgage rules mean for you
+ Qualified Mortgages – What are they and what do they mean for you?

Empowering low income and economically vulnerable consumers

December 10, 2013 Comments off

Empowering low income and economically vulnerable consumers
Source: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

The low-income and economically vulnerable population includes as many as 100 million people. These consumers are diverse in culture, geography, stage of life, and financial status. Last year, the Office of Financial Empowerment hosted a forum to examine the unique consumer financial product and service needs of low-income and economically vulnerable consumers. This report captures the reflections and insights of attendees and describes some of the strategies we’re pursuing to address the issues identified.

Financial information — Navigating the market

November 22, 2013 Comments off

Navigating the market
Source: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

To understand the wide range of information sources consumers could be exposed to in making financial decisions, we commissioned a study of the size and scope of the financial information field. The results give an overall indication of the relative amounts spent in the U.S. on financial education and on the marketing of certain types of financial products. The report found that for every dollar put towards financial education, $25 is spent on financial marketing, which can make it difficult for consumers to find objective information.

CFPB’s Consumer Complaint Database: Analysis reveals valuable insights

October 31, 2013 Comments off

CFPB’s Consumer Complaint Database: Analysis reveals valuable insights
Source: Deloitte

With the Dodd-Frank Act’s creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) in 2010, lawmakers signaled the beginning of a new era in consumer protection. The CFPB’s subsequent introduction of the Consumer Complaint Database in July 2012 underscored the CFPB’s intent to fulfill two core objectives: enforcing federal consumer protection laws more vigorously and analyzing consumers, financial services providers and market activities.

More than two years after the CFPB began collecting complaint data, the Consumer Complaint Database is now a public repository of over 100,000 consumer complaints. It’s a rich resource for CFPB analysts and financial institutions searching for emerging trends about consumer complaints relating to financial services products, including reasons for those complaints and actions financial institutions are taking to resolve them.

Deloitte’s analysis of the database has produced a number of valuable insights about the nature and sources of recent complaints, including:

  • Troubled mortgages are behind the majority of the complaints – a growing trend
  • Customer misunderstanding may create more complaints than financial institution error
  • Affluent, established neighborhoods were more likely sources of complaints
  • Complaint resolution times have improved

CFPB Finds Card Act Reduced Penalty Fees And Made Credit Card Costs Clearer

October 4, 2013 Comments off

CFPB Finds Card Act Reduced Penalty Fees And Made Credit Card Costs Clearer
Source: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) today released a report detailing how the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 (CARD Act) reduced penalty fees and made the cost of credit cards clearer to consumers. The report found that total cost of credit declined by two percentage points between 2008 and 2012 but that there are still areas of concern in the credit card market.

The CFPB study of overdraft programs

June 14, 2013 Comments off

The CFPB study of overdraft programs

Source: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

On June 11, 2013, we released a report that raises concerns about the ability of consumers to anticipate and avoid overdraft costs on their checking accounts. The report found wide variations across financial institutions regarding the costs and risks of opting in to overdraft coverage. The report also found that consumers who opt in for overdraft coverage on debit card and ATM transactions end up with higher account fees and more involuntary account closures than consumers who don’t opt in.

A snapshot of financial complaints from the military

May 1, 2013 Comments off

A snapshot of financial complaints from the military

Source: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Did you know we’ve received more than 5,000 complaints from servicemembers, veterans, and their families? By and large, statistics for complaints submitted by the military track with those of the population at large. But these complaint statistics aren’t just numbers to us: they represent military members and their families and we know the impact consumer financial issues can have on their quality of life.

In one complaint, an active-duty airman received permanent change of station orders in April 2012 – meaning he had no choice but to move – and tried to get approval from his mortgage servicer to sell his house in a short sale. In August, the company denied his request. He contacted his judge advocate to find out his rights; the judge advocate contacted the CFPB and learned about the guidance we had issued to clarify what mortgage servicers should do when contacted by a servicemember who has received PCS orders.

Based on that guidance, the judge advocate advised the airman to submit a complaint to us. We monitored the complaint and helped address the issues raised in the complaint. After previously denying the short sale, the company re-reviewed the airman’s request and approved it.

In another complaint, an active-duty army officer had been told by her student loan servicer that they were going to terminate her SCRA rights unless she provided a new set of orders that contained an end date. As an officer, she did not have orders with an end date, so the servicer terminated her interest-rate protection while she was still serving on active duty. The consumer complained to the CFPB and even before the complaint was routed to the relevant enforcement agency, a representative from the Office of Servicemember Affairs was able to communicate with the servicer and ensure the rate was reinstated.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau report details how the nation’s largest credit bureaus manage consumer da ta

December 13, 2012 Comments off

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau report details how the nation’s largest credit bureaus manage consumer data

Source: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Today the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released a report on the consumer experience with the three largest nationwide credit reporting companies: Equifax Information Services, LLC; Experian Information Solutions Inc.; and TransUnion LLC. Among the key takeaways in the report, which is one of the most comprehensive studies of credit reporting to date, are that credit card history dominates the information in consumer reports and that debt collection items generate the highest rate of disputes.

Credit reporting companies, also called credit bureaus, are businesses that track a consumer’s credit history. The credit reports they generate – and the three-digit credit scores that are based on those reports – play an increasingly important role in the lives of American consumers. Most decisions to grant credit and set interest rates for loans are made using information contained in credit reports as a key decision factor.

Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion each have more than 200 million files on consumers. In a typical month, they receive updates from approximately 10,000 information “furnishers,” which are the entities that supply data on consumers. The furnishers do this on more than 1.3 billion “trade lines,” which are individual information sources on a consumer report such as a consumer’s accounts for a car loan, mortgage loan, or credit card.

The report is the result of the CFPB analyzing U.S. information from 2011, including information submitted by TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. Among the key takeaways in the report:

  • More than half of the trade lines in the credit bureau databases are supplied by the credit card industry: Credit reporting companies get their information from a variety of industries but more than half of the account information is supplied by credit card companies. Specifically, 40 percent comes from bank cards, such as general credit cards, and 18 percent comes from retail credit cards. Only 7 percent comes from mortgage lenders or servicers, and only 4 percent comes from auto lenders.
  • More than a third of disputes have to do with collections: In 2011, consumers reached out to the credit reporting companies roughly 8 million times, resulting in disputes of 32 to 38 million items in their credit files. Almost 40 percent of the disputes relate to debt in collections, and debt in collections is five times more likely to be disputed than mortgage information. According to the industry, some of this may have to do with consumers’ incentive to dispute any negative information on their reports.
  • Fewer than one in five people obtain copies of their credit report each year: The most effective way for consumers to identify errors in their reports is to obtain copies and review them. But only about 44 million consumers per year, or about one in five, obtain copies of their files.
  • Most information contained in credit reports comes from a few large companies: Most information contained in credit files comes from a small number of large banks and other financial institutions. In fact, the top 10 data furnishers provide 57 percent of the trade lines coming into the credit reporting companies. The top 50 furnishers provide 72 percent. And the top 100 furnishers provide 76 percent.
  • Most complaints are forwarded to the furnishers that provided the original information: The credit reporting companies resolve an average of 15 percent of consumer disputed items internally, without getting the data furnishers involved. The remaining 85 percent are passed on to the furnishers. Today’s report, however, found that the documentation consumers mail in to support their cases may not be getting passed on to the data furnishers for them to properly investigate and report back to the credit reporting company.

CFPB orders American Express to pay $85 million refund to consumers harmed by illegal credit card practices

October 1, 2012 Comments off

CFPB orders American Express to pay $85 million refund to consumers harmed by illegal credit card practices

Source: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) today announced an enforcement action with orders requiring three American Express subsidiaries to refund an estimated $85 million to approximately 250,000 customers for illegal card practices. This action is the result of a multi-part federal investigation which found that at every stage of the consumer experience, from marketing to enrollment to payment to debt collection, American Express violated consumer protection laws.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) together with the Utah Department of Financial Institutions discovered the illegal activities during a routine examination of an American Express subsidiary, the American Express Centurion Bank.

The FDIC transferred portions of the investigation to the CFPB when the Bureau opened its doors last year and together the agencies pursued the matter. The CFPB later concluded that many of the same violations that occurred at American Express Centurion Bank also took place at American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc. and American Express Bank, FSB.

The investigations found that the violations occurred at various points in time between 2003 and spring 2012. They occurred at every stage of the consumer experience, from shopping for cards, to applying for cards, to paying charges, and to paying off debt. More specifically, American Express subsidiaries:

  • Deceived consumers who signed up for the American Express “Blue Sky” credit card program: Consumers were sometimes led to believe they would receive $300 in addition to bonus points if they signed up for this American Express Centurion Bank program. But consumers who met the qualifications did not receive the $300. This violates federal laws prohibiting deceptive practices.
  • Charged unlawful late fees: American Express Centurion Bank and American Express Bank, FSB billed late fees on certain cards based on a percentage of the debt in violation of the Credit CARD Act.
  • Unlawfully discriminated against new account applicants on the basis of age: American Express Centurion Bank used a credit scoring system that treated charge card applicants differently on the basis of age. For a period of time, the bank did not fully implement the system for applicants over the age of 35. This violated the Equal Credit Opportunity Act because it requires credit scoring systems that take age into account to be properly designed and implemented.
  • Failed to report consumer disputes to consumer reporting agencies: American Express Centurion Bank and American Express Bank, FSB failed to report the existence of certain customer disputes to credit bureaus, which is a violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
  • Misled consumers about debt collection: All three of the American Express subsidiaries deceived consumers into believing there were certain benefits to paying off old debt. Consumers were wrongly told that if they paid off the old debt, the payment would be reported to credit bureaus and could improve their credit scores. In fact, American Express was not reporting the payments and the debts were so old that even if they had tried to report them, many of the payments would not have appeared on these consumers’ credit reports or affected their credit scores. American Express also told some consumers that a portion of their debt would be waived or forgiven if they accepted certain settlement offers. But for customers who applied for a new American Express card, the company was not really forgiving or waiving the debt.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Study Finds Credit Scores Used by Consumers and Lenders Can Differ

September 27, 2012 Comments off

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Study Finds Credit Scores Used by Consumers and Lenders Can Differ
Source: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released a study comparing credit scores sold to creditors and those sold to consumers. The study found that about one out of five consumers would likely receive a meaningfully different score than would a lender.

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act directed the CFPB to compare credit scores sold to creditors and those sold to consumers by nationwide credit bureaus and to determine whether differences between those scores harm consumers. Today’s study analyzes credit scores from 200,000 credit files from each of the following credit bureaus: TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. It is a follow up to a study the Bureau released in July 2011 that described the credit scoring industry, the types of credit scores, and the potential problems for consumers that could result from differences between the scores they purchase and the scores creditors use.

The study released today determined:

  • One out of five consumers would likely receive a meaningfully different score than would a creditor: When consumers purchase their score from a credit bureau, the score they receive may be meaningfully different from the score that a lender would consult in making a decision. A meaningful difference means that the consumer would be likely to qualify for different credit offers – either better or worse – than they would expect to get based on the score they purchased.
  • Score discrepancies may generate consumer harm: When discrepancies exist between the scores consumers purchase and the scores used for decision-making by lenders in the marketplace, consumers may take action that does not benefit them. For example, consumers who have reviewed their own score may expect a certain price from a lender may waste time and effort applying for loans they are not qualified for, or may accept offers that are worse than they could get.
  • Consumers unlikely to know about score discrepancies: There is no way for consumers to know how the score they receive will compare to the score a creditor uses in making a lending decision. As such, consumers cannot exclusively rely on the credit score they receive to understand how lenders will view their creditworthiness.

The Bureau recommends that consumers consider the following in evaluating the credit score they receive:

  • Shop around for credit. Consumers benefit by shopping for credit. Regardless of the scores different lenders use, they may offer different loan terms because they operate different risk models or face different competitive pressures. Consumers should not rule out of seeking lower priced credit because of assumptions they make about their credit score. While some consumers are reluctant to shop for credit out of fear that they will harm their credit score, that negative impact may be overblown. Inquiries generally do not result in a large reduction in a consumer credit score.
  • Check the credit report for accuracy and dispute errors. Credit scores are calculated based on information in a consumer’s credit file. Inaccurate information may be the difference between a consumer being approved or denied a loan. Before shopping for major credit items, the Bureau recommends that consumers review their credit files for inaccuracies. Each of the nationwide credit bureaus is required by law to provide credit reports for free to consumers who request them once every 12 months.

Research updates on private student loans

September 13, 2012 Comments off

Research updates on private student loans

Source: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Last month, we released a report to Congress with the Department of Education on the private student market. This report helped shed light on how the private student loan market works and where there are opportunities for improvement.

When we design a form or develop a regulation, we work to gather continuous feedback. The same goes for our reports. Since releasing the private student loan report, we’ve been talking to researchers, consumer groups, and industry players to share our results and get feedback. Based on this feedback, we developed ways to make better estimates on certain market statistics, particularly in areas where our data set was incomplete.

While there aren’t any changes to the key findings and recommendations, we released an update today to reflect new methodologies our research team used to calculate some statistics in the report: first, the proportion of private student loan borrowers who exhausted their Federal Stafford Loan options; and second, the extent to which schools certified a borrower’s need for a private student loan.

Compared to the original estimates, the update shows that the number of borrowers who exhausted their federal options is lower than our original estimate, and the level of school certification is higher.

CFPB — Private Student Loans Report

July 23, 2012 Comments off

Private Student Loans Report

Source: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act requires the Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Secretary of Education to submit a Report on private student loans.

This Report addresses the following topics, as set forth in the Act:

  • The private lenders, their market and their products, as they have evolved and performed over time,
  • The consumers of these products, their characteristics, and shopping, usage and repayment behaviors,
  • Consumer protections, including recent changes and possible gaps,
  • Fair lending compliance information currently available and its implications, and
  • Statutory or legislative recommendations to improve consumer protections.

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 784 other followers