The National Consumer Law Center, or NCLC, has published a Top 10 list of action items for the new federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or CFPB. Among the items is one credit card related to-do, which is to "get inside the books of credit card companies to make sure they're not charging illegal fees or rate increases, and help consumers shop for the best card without back-end tricks and traps."
The list is important because while the CFPB officially kicked off its effort July 21, its hands, so to speak, are tied in many respects since it doesn't yet have a director. The NCLC list focuses on actions that can be taken through other avenues of authority.
"(T)he Bureau has plenty to do and plenty of power to do it, even without a director in place," the NCLC said.
According to the NCLC, the CFPB can look inside credit card issuers' books now in search of illegal fees or rate increases on the authority of the federal Truth in Lending Act, or TILA.
Here, verbatim, are the other nine items on the list:
- Stop mortgage companies from charging illegal fees, keeping sloppy records of what people owe, forcing homeowners into overpriced insurance, or rushing to foreclose before considering home-saving options.
- Stop banks from tricking people into incurring overdraft fees, help consumers get the cheapest overdraft coverage, and provide clear information on bank fees.
- Stop 400 percent Internet and bank "account advance" payday loans from grabbing consumers' wages, Social Security or unemployment benefits before families pay food or rent.
- Protect prepaid debit cards, a growing but unregulated bank account substitute, from identity theft, bank errors and hidden fees.
- Force the credit bureaus to clean up error-plagued credit reports and to respond to consumers trying to fix mistakes.
- Help students avoid expensive student loans when cheaper aid or loans are available.
- Prohibit kick-backs to auto dealers who put consumers, especially minorities, in more expensive loans and stop bait-and-switch tactics.
- Go after debt collectors who make illegal threats, harass people for debts they do not owe and pursue zombie debt long after it expires.
- Ensure that consumers who are transferring money across the country or across the world know exactly what the transfer will cost and how much their family will receive.
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