CFPB Seeks Public Input on Credit Cards

March 14, 2017
CFPB Wants Help

Have complaints--or kudos--about how well your credit cards actually work for you? The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) wants to hear from you to help it compile its latest credit card review.

The CFPB, the government agency that looks out for consumers' interests in the financial sector, has to conduct periodic reviews of the credit card industry every two years, according to the Credit Card Accountability and Disclosure Act of 2009. To do this, it actively seeks information from consumers about a number of specific aspects about credit cards. While the agency lists out a number of topics it wants information about, it's also willing to listen to anything you want to share about your credit card.

First, the CFPB wants to look at credit card agreements and fee/cost disclosures. Over the last several years, the agency has made inroads on making sure credit card companies keep their credit card agreements concise and easy to understand, so it wants to hear if there have been any changes over the last few years, particularly in terms of complexity. It also wants to know if how rate, fee and other costs are explained actually help consumers understand them. It's interested in hearing whether companies should continue to improve on this aspect, and how much it would cost them to do so.

Another aspect the CFPB has worked on is eliminating unfair, deceptive and discriminatory practices, so it wants to hear whether or not consumers still experience these problems, and if so, how often it happens, what the effect is, and how it can be prevented in the future. Consumer experience with potentially risky deferred interest products is also a topic of interest to the agency

The agency is also interested in topics that relate to consumers with lower credit scores and limited credit history. This group can have trouble getting credit cards, so it wants to know if it's still tough for the subprime group to get credit cards. A subset of credit card issuers specialize in issuing cards to those with lower credit scores--but that can come with a price in terms of higher fees and costs. The CFPB wants to know how consumers are managing the terms of those types of cards. It's also looking at secured cards, particularly the risks and obstacles around them.

With this review, the CFPB is also looking at third party comparison sites like this one, which provides information about credit cards and eases selection of a product. For this service, the site gets revenue. The agency wants to know how consumers understand using these sites.

Innovation has been a major factor over the last two years, with the industry rollout of EMV cards and the beginnings of a shift to mobile payments. The CFPB wants feedback on how these two events have advanced the industry, as well as the benefits and risks of them.

One other change is a consumer shift to receiving online statements and going through mobile platforms. While this is a trend, the CFPB is finding that consumers don't tend to access their account statements online, which means they aren't exposed to mandatory disclosures designed to help them. This has led the agency to ask about the benefits and risks of this behavior.

Three other areas where the agency is gathering feedback involve practices and risks around rewards programs, variable interest rates and consumer credit card debt collection.

The CFPB will be collecting comments until early June. Consumers can submit feedback through, by emailing, mail or courier. All feedback should include the Docket No. CFPB-2017-0006.

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