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New financial regulations take hold in 2011

New consumer watchdog comes online
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By July, some functions of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau should be at least partially operational, says Elizabeth Warren, the White House adviser who is setting up the new bureau.

That means consumers will have a way to report onerous interest rates and loan provisions by financial institutions. They'll be able to call the bureau's customer complaint hotline, which Warren hopes will be up and running by July 21.

In another financial reform, the bureau will begin to scrutinize financial disclosures, the reams of fine print you get when you make any financial decision of consequence, and reworking them into a form that's easier for the average consumer to read and understand.

"Our first priorities are home mortgages and credit cards. What we're working toward -- because in this case, they're similar -- is clearer, shorter agreements that are much more user-friendly," Warren says.




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