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CFPB not taking bank complaints yet

By Claes Bell ·
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Posted: 10 am ET

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau opened its doors with some media fanfare late last week, but if you're having problems with a bank account, don't expect help from the new agency just yet.

A recent trip to the CFPB website's consumer complaint form yielded this message:

File a credit card complaint. Later this year, we will also be able to help you with credit reporting, debt collection and more. In the meantime, answer these questions to find out which government office may be able to help you.

From there, I was connected to the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council website, and from there, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

I have to admit, I was a little disappointed by this. There's no doubt that creating a government agency out of whole cloth is an incredibly difficult and complex undertaking, and I don't blame the CFPB for taking some time to get up to speed.

But the idea of a consumer-friendly, one-stop shop for consumer complaints was something I saw as a major benefit of Dodd-Frank, and it was a little discouraging to be confronted with the same old maze of regulators, in particular the OCC, which is currently headed by the same former bank lobbyist, John C. Dugan, who presided over the agency during the run up to the financial crisis.

To give you an idea of how vigorously the OCC fights for consumer rights, according to a 2009 report from the agency, over the preceding 10 years, it had only brought 120 consumer-related formal enforcement actions nationwide, of which only 10 required banks to pay restitution.

What do you think? Are you pleased with the progress of the CFPB? Will you be happy to see it take over consumer protection duties from other financial regulators?

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