The Power of Complaints: An Opportunity to Strengthen the Consumer’s Voice

Virtually every American adult uses at least one, and usually several, financial products. These include credit cards, pre-paid cards, bank accounts, credit reporting, mortgages, loans, and money transfers.

When problems occur, the consequences can be severe: for example, the inability to obtain credit; difficulty getting a mortgage; and being hounded by debt collectors for someone else’s debt.

In 2011, a new federal agency was launched, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), with an important mission – regulating financial products and services. The CFPB invites complaints via its website, which has been carefully designed for ease of use. It also engages in consumer financial education.

In the past three years, it has received more than 400,000 complaints. Complaints about specific financial products and services are forwarded to the appropriate companies for their response and, when warranted, resolution.

The CFPB has brought its complaint process into the sunlight by posting on its website the nature of those complaints and their status in the resolution process.  Anyone with Internet access can visit to both submit their own complaints and view the bare bones details of many thousands more. 

Don't Become a Target: Make Smart Choices to Protect Your Privacy

With all of the media surrounding the Target, Neiman Marcus, and, now, Michaels data breaches (and potentially other retail outlets), it can be overwhelming to determine what you should do to protect yourself.  Even though you can't prevent a breach, there are steps you can and should take to prevent future headache and harm.   

This is an important alert to read even if you weren't a victim of the recent breaches. As privacy and security professionals say on a regular basis, data breaches aren't a question of "if", they are a question of "when." It is best to be prepared and proactive.

Read more to find out our top 5 tips.

YouTube Video on Debit Cards: Know the Risks

The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse is pleased to announce the release of the fourth short film in a six-part series. The film, Credit Cards vs. Debit Cards: Know Your Rights, demonstrates the risks in using a debit card.

The 4-minute film is about a single mom named Sabine who learns that her debit card has been compromised; a fraudulent $312 purchase was made in a different state.  With only a few hundred dollars left in her account, Sabine has barely enough money left to pay bills while the bank investigates the fraudulent activity.

What could Sabine have done differently? Is there a happy ending in store for Sabine? Watch the video to find out. If you like it, we hope you will share it with friends and family.

YouTube Video on Annual Credit Reports

We are excited to debut our latest YouTube video, Annual Credit Reports: Know Your Rights. The video demonstrates the importance of regularly checking your credit report.

The 4-minute film opens with 23-year-old Jenny saying goodbye to the car she had throughout high school and college. Buying a new car will be her first big purchase as an adult. Jenny does her research and settles on the perfect car for her, a "lil' beauty." However, Jenny is devastated to discover that her credit score is too low to qualify for the advertised interest rate. Jenny can't afford the car...

What could Jenny have done differently? Is there a happy ending in store for Jenny? Watch the video to find out. If you like it, we hope you will share it with friends and family.

It’s Tax Day! Now, What to Do with All Those Records?

Today is Tax Day, the last day to file your federal income tax return with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). You’ve spent the last several weeks collecting sensitive financial documents and now you’re probably wondering what to do with them. Financial documents may contain information, such as your Social Security number, that you should keep private in order to prevent identity theft. Therefore, the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse has compiled a guide on document retention and destruction tips to help protect your privacy.

Tax Season Tips to Protect Your Privacy

Tax season officially began on Jan. 1, which means you may soon be receiving "information returns" in your mailbox. Unfortunately, information returns are likely to contain your full Social Security number and other sensitive information.

Comments to FTC: Collection of a Deceased Person's Debt

On October 8, 2010, the FTC announced a policy regarding debt collectors’ communications with third parties regarding a decedent’s debt. In this, the FTC expands the numbers of individuals a collector may contact when the debtor is deceased. We urge the Commission to reconsider this policy or at a minimum to offer guidance for individuals who may be contacted by a collector about a deceased consumer’s debt. We further urge the Commission to reconsider its policy regarding no enforcement for deceased debtor contacts.

Check Out of Your Checking Account

Is your bank starting to charge you monthly fees for your formerly free checking account? Has a large, impersonal bank taken over the smaller bank that you were used to? Do you visit your local branch for service, and receive a sales pitch for products that you do not want? For these and other reasons, many consumers have become dissatisfied with their banking arrangements. If you are unhappy with your current bank, this alert will help you navigate the issues involved in switching your checking account to a new financial institution.


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