If your credit card issuer is mistreating you, or if you're having trouble with your mortgage lender, you've got a new place to turn for help.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) accepts consumer complaints about credit cards, consumer loans, student loans, mortgages and more.
A new way to deal with errant banks
When you file a complaint with CFPB, they do two things. First, they catalog and code it and use a database management system to figure out if there's a pattern of problems that call for further investigation.
Second, they send the complaint on to the bank or lender or whoever you're questioning. The bank is allowed to contact the consumer and try to solve the problem. If they think they've solved it, the bank will tell the CFPB, acknowledging that it's been taking care of.
This can be a very useful process. The opportunity to fix problems and have the feds look for patterns is great. Those of certain political persuasions seem to have it out for the CFPB. But consider this: Taxpayers spent $7.4 trillion to save the banks during the bailouts of the Great Recession. Wouldn't it be nice if they followed the laws of the land?
That's the goal of the CFPB, to bring them to accountability.
Here's another thing the banks aren't happy about: The CFPB is now posting a "Wall of Shame" of sorts that documents consumer complaints so you can get a sense for the narrative of how the banks and other financial institutions are allegedly doing people wrong.
Check it out before you file your complaint!
How to stop unauthorized automatic drafts from your bank account
Auto drafts are a favorite way of utility companies, cable companies, health clubs, burglar alarm companies and even mortgage lenders to get their money from you each month. Unfortunately, problems can arise when you're no longer a customer and they keep taking money from your account every month!
But did you know there's a way you can stop unauthorized monthly drafts?
The Federal Reserve's rules governing pre-authorized transfers (part of Regulation E) states the following: "Once a financial institution has been notified that the customer's authorization is no longer valid, it must block all future payments for the particular debit transmitted by the designated payee-originator."
Read more: Sample letter — Stop automatic payments
That means if you notify your bank in writing, they must block all future payments to the party or parties who are wrongly dinging your account. Furthermore, the bank has 10 business days to give you your money back or to give you a provisional credit.
This is huge news. It offers protection for people who are getting their accounts dinged every month by a business that they used to be a customer of, or even by an illegal operation that's trying to dip into your account regularly.
The banks become liable for refunding your money. They may not want to do their job, but now you have the form letter to hold their feet to the fire!