Credit card companies have a new watchdog, with a robust online presence and a consumer hotline. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau launched in July, settling into the authority granted by last year's financial reform legislation. Americans can report problems with credit cards, bank accounts, mortgages and other financial products by calling (855) 411-2372 or visiting ConsumerFinance.gov.

Former Ohio attorney general Richard Cordray awaits Congressional confirmation for his proposed role as the Bureau's first Director. Although last year's Dodd-Frank financial reform bill set a deadline for the CFPB's launch, House Republicans have threatened to block the installment of any director until they negotiate changes to the Bureau's structure and oversight. Elizabeth Warren, the financial educator who helped set the Bureau's tone and structure, announced her return to a teaching post at Harvard after her failed bid to win support on Capitol Hill.

With Warren returning to private life and bumping the agency's proposed chief of enforcement into the prospective Director role, Associate Director Raj Date will take on Warren's role as Special Advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. As Cordray prepares for a long confirmation battle, Date will manage the Bureau's daily activities, including:

  • listening to consumer complaints about the financial industry
  • researching how Americans use financial products
  • restricting deceptive behaviors and actions
  • promoting financial education
  • enforcing consumer financial protection laws

Characterized in the press as an "EPA for money," the CFPB leverages the latest technology to analyze consumer data and to support Americans in their fight for responsible financial products and services. CFPB reports have hinted at some of the Bureau's initial agenda items, such as:

  • compelling credit bureaus to monitor cash transfers through MoneyGram, Western Union and the like
  • informing consumers about variations between credit scoring models
  • championing credit card issuer transparency beyond the requirements of recent laws

The CFPB monitors a Twitter feed (@CFPB) and has promised to engage with consumers on other social media platforms to enable easier reporting of potential enforcement issues.