Financial Protection Bureau Sets up Shop
With the past few turbulent years of financial strain, recession, home foreclosure and credit collapse, government policy will soon exist to help put safeguards and support in place to aid the American consumer on both minor and major financial decisions. The passing of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, spearheaded by Christopher Dodd, a former senator from Connecticut, and U. S. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), was signed by President Obama after the financial collapse to centralize an outdated consumer protections system, allowing for the creation of a new bureau to oversee law-making powers and aid for the modern consumer. This new agency, named the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, has now been officially brought into being, with urgent goals to aid Americans of all walks of life.
One of the largest advocates for both the Dodd-Frank Bill and the agency itself is Professor Elizabeth Warren, lawyer and law professor at Harvard University. After advocating for the legislation to be passed by Congress, Warren worked with the Treasury Department to set up the agency, assuming the position of special assistant to Timothy Geithner, U.S. Secretary of Treasury, as well as that of advisor to the president on matters concerning the CFPB.
While the agency is still in its early stages, the current goal is to become an independent agency and to assume rule-making responsibility regarding certain aspects of financial activity in the United States. Examples of their proposed area of jurisdiction include credit cards, debit cards, mortgages and student loans, which will allow for changes and protections to be enforced in these areas.
There are several branches within this agency that will target certain aspects of positive financial independence and decision making, such as Financial Literacy, Consumer Engagement, Community Relations, Service Member Affairs and Aging Americans. All have specific goals to aid and educate Americans about finance. Along with these departments, an Enforcement Division will oversee the litigation of financial institutions that do not meet the laws and guidelines within their respective financial services.
What will all of this do to help aid the American people? It will attempt to help by not only promoting proactive financial education, by consulting on loans and counseling on financial stability, as well as coming to the aid of consumers who may have been deceived by the fine print.
To do this, like many 21st century agencies and businesses, the CFPB has gone digital, recently launching their website as well as an accompanying blog, a Facebook page, Twitter accounts and several videos from employees within the agency. The website calls for consumer feedback and provides articles from writers and staff members on various aspects of finance and related events.
One recent article by William Sealy, titled, “A New Voice,” speaks to college-age Americans about pressures and stresses that taking on student loans and credit cards can manifest. Counseling on getting the right loans for each student and going over the loan process for both federal and private loans is going to be offered in the near future, and legislation will be put in place and maintained so that lenders and banks will not be allowed to hike up interest rates to rates that students could not anticipate paying.
The CFPB is providing positive change and hope for many Americans, and this is only the beginning. For more information on this agency and the changes it will make to the financial landscape, visit consumerfinance.gov or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau page on Facebook.
By: Stephanie Tipple