Know Your Consumer Financial Rights

Know Your Consumer Financial Rights

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An informed consumer is a wise consumer, but many Americans are not simply uninformed, rather they are misinformed when it comes to their financial rights. That is almost to be expected given inaccuracies pushed on the internet as well as a myriad number of laws on the local, state and federal level.

mortgagesThere isn’t enough space in this article to cover all fifty states and what laws may affect you, but on the federal level we can take a look at a number of laws on the books designed to protect the American consumer. As far as state and local laws go, check your city and state’s websites for consumer information pertinent to you.

Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or FDIC ensures deposits for banks and is often the clearinghouse consumers use when seeking information about their financial rights.  While the FDIC is tasked with handling some complaints, other regulatory agencies oversee specific practices of banks, savings and loan institutions and credit unions.

And, with consumer complaints on the rise thanks to a difficult economy, finding the proper agency to deal with a problem is essential. Let’s take a look at some of the top consumers problems covered under federal law:

Electronic Funds Transfer Act — Also known as “Regulation E” this act was established in 1978 just as electronic transfer payments were taking root. Though not all transfers are covered, the act allows consumers to choose their own bank when accepting salary deposits as well as offering protection from creditors who may demand a payment via electronic transfer. Visit www.federalreserve.org for more information.

Fair Credit Reporting Act — Mistakes on credit reports can cause you to pay too much for a loan or miss getting approved for credit in the first place. This act puts restrictions on who can look at your credit report, offers consumers steps they can take to correct problems and requires confidentiality on the part of creditors. Recently, the act was amended to give consumers free access to their three major credit reports once annually. Visit www.ftc.gov for more information.

Fair Housing Act — Tenants, borrowers and home buyers cannot be discriminated against on the basis of color, race, sex, religion, handicap, familial status or national origin. Visit www.hud.gov or www.usdoj.gov for more information.

Truth in Lending ActFinance charge and annual percentage rate information and certain other terms and costs related to credit must be disclosed in order to help consumers make sound choices when it comes to borrowing. This act also limits consumer liability if credit cards are lost or stolen. Visit www.fdic.gov or treas.gov for more information.

Each act offers redress for consumers who may think that they have a viable complaint. Visit the appropriate website for more information and instructions on how best to proceed.

Adv. — Credit cards can be an important tool to help you manage your family finances. However, they shouldn’t be used to pay for everyday expenses nor should you obtain a card with conditions that are not right for you.  Credit card selection can be done right online as can checking your credit reports for errors.

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