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Overview of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau - What's New and What to Expect in 2012

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) received authority to enforce a majority of the nation’s financial consumer protection laws in July 2011, but the new regulator’s powers were limited until President Obama made a “recess” appointment in January 2012 to name former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray as the first director of the CFPB.  Now, the CFPB has the authority to not only enforce existing consumer protection laws but also to write new regulations for non-bank financial institutions and to supervise their activities.  Although there may be uncertainty with respect to what actions the bureau takes now that it has a director, the regulator has outlined a number of priorities, including simplifying financial disclosure forms for credit cards, mortgages and student loans, establishing a non-bank supervisory and examination program, and examining how existing business practices impact consumers.  The bureau will also focus on establishing consumer complaint data bases to guide investigations and enforcement actions.  It is imperative that financial institutions under the authority of the CFPB ensure that they follow industry best practices and are in compliance with current federal and state regulations to prepare for future actions by the new consumer financial regulator.

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