Navigating the financial world can be, at best, confusing. However, the newly formed Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is answering a variety of questions with the new “ask the CFPB” tool.
The new CFPB tool
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s “ask the CFPB” tool is intended to answer the most common financial questions consumers have about finance. Consumers can type a question into the tool, which is then reviewed by and matched with answers by workers at the CFPB. The most commonly asked questions are curated into a frequently asked questions section, which answers a variety of legal and general financial questions.
Trying to be a central resource
The goal of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is to provide a single port for consumers with financial questions. The Bureau intends to help consumers navigate the wide variety of financial regulatory agencies and laws. It is also intended to be a governmental agency that advocates only for the consumer in a regulatory and financial system that focuses on the system more than the individuals using it. The online system currently focuses mostly on mortgage and loan products and has about 350 prepared answers, but there are plans to expand the database as consumers ask more questions.
Assistance submitting a complaint
In addition to the ask-a-question feature, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has been running a central resource for submitting a complaint. The “submit a complaint” feature of the CFPB website functions as a central location for consumers to submit complaints or concerns about mortgages, credit cards, bank accounts, vehicle loans, consumer loans and student loans. In July of 2011, the agency also released Know Before You Owe, a system that creates comparison-shopping tools for mortgages. The Know Before You Owe tool simplifies the federally required mortgage disclosures to make it simpler for consumers.
Trouble giving the CFPB teeth
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was initially discussed in 2007, and considered by Congress in 2009. In 2010, the CFBP was signed into law. It wasn’t until 2011 that the agency finally got congressional approval of a director, and the new agency has been a target for congressional action intended to cut down the amount of enforcement action that the agency can actually take.