It’s not often that we use the words “government” and “useful” in the same sentence (at least without the word “not” in between). But we had to share one great money tool that is in fact a government website. Yes, it’s actually run by the government, and it’s a great resource for a lot of reasons.
The site to check out is for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The CFPB is a relatively new government organization that’s meant to protect consumers in all things finance-related. It protects consumers using credit cards, banks, pay-day lenders, pre-paid cards, mortgages, and the like.
What’s so great about the CFPB website? Here are five things to check out:
1. File a complaint: If you have a complaint against a mortgage lender, a bank, a credit card company, or whatever, you can submit the complaint on the CFPB website. The site keeps your personal information confidential, but financial institutions actually take this seriously and respond to all these complaints. In fact, the CFPB keeps a database, accessible the public, of how finance companies have responded to these complaints.
Because these financial companies don’t want to be listed in the database as not responding to complaints, they take them very seriously. So they usually take care of them quickly. Sometimes a complaint even results in compensation for the consumer who submitted it.
In my experience, the best way to resolve a complaint against a financial entity is to go directly to the company in question. But if you can’t resolve it that way, you can submit a complaint through the CFPB.
2. Check out the resources on paying for college: The CFPB offers resources on how to pay for college. You’ll find a number of tools that you can use to see how much college will cost, whether the GI bill can help you if you were in the service, or how much financial aid you can expect.
Enter specific information about the type of college you want to attend, and you can choose a school in terms of cost. This isn’t the only resource you’ll want to check out when you’re thinking about paying for college, but it’s a good place to begin.
3. Get help with your mortgage: This website has a lot of information on mortgages, including information on what to do if you can’t pay your mortgage. There’s information on your options – and on resources to use – if you find yourself in that situation. The site includes check lists on ways to avoid foreclosure, as well.
The site also has mortgage information for home buyers. If you don’t own a home yet but would like to, this site has some great information for you. They offer information on finding housing counselors, and other mortgage-related information. It’s just a wealth of information on mortgages.
4. Get help with your credit: Similarly to the mortgage pages, the site has lots of information on credit. It shows you how to get your credit report for free, and how to check your credit score. And, of course, you can use the site to submit a complaint against credit-related companies – including credit bureaus. Again, it’s best to start by going to the company first, but if that doesn’t work, you might try the CFPB.
5. Ask the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau a Question: The Ask CFPB section is an excellent feature of this site. It lets you ask questions on any topic related to consumer finance. First you type your question into a form, and the site will search for articles related to your question. It’s an easy way to find a ton of information on this website.
If you don’t find the answer to your question, you can submit it to the CFPB. First, search the website with the “Ask CFPB” tool, and then if you don’t find the answer you’re looking for, submit a question to the bureau.
If you don’t have a specific question to ask, you can also check out the categories on the Ask CFPB page. Click on a category, and it will show you all the articles on the site that are relevant to that topic.