07/22/2011 - If you've ever thought someone was playing fast and lose with the rules on your credit cards, credit score or mortgage, but you had no idea where to go with your complaint, you now have a place to turn.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has been launched. It is supposed to stop lenders from tricking you into a high-interest loan or some other financial product that is not what it appears to be. It also gives consumers an outlet for their complaints on everything from student loans to payday lenders.
But, as you might suspect given its power to regulate banking practices, the birth of this new bureau has not been greeted with celebration by those fearful about constraints on their business. And although it is brand new, the agency is fighting for its survival. Some of the banks and congressmen who fought to keep a consumer advocate out of Dodd-Frank financial reform measures are still trying to euthanize it.
Among some of the practices Plunkett and other advocates want the bureau to clean up are:
Deceptive practices involving business credit cards. When new rules stopped lenders from putting "hair-trigger penalties" on regular credit cards, the Pew Charitable Trusts claims, lenders started pushing cards to small businesses because the rules do not apply to cards designated for businesses. As a result, penalties can take business owners by surprise.
Read the full article Consumers Hold High Hopes for New Bureau on the Chicago Tribune's Web site.
Pew is no longer active in this line of work, but for more information visit the Safe Credit Cards Project on PewHealth.org.