Posted July 25, 2014 by Chris Warren in News

CFPB To Police Prepaid Debit Cards

In yet another sign of the mainstreaming of prepaid debit cards, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced this week that it would begin accepting complaints from Americans encountering problems with these increasingly popular financial products. Although the market for prepaid debit cards has been steadily expanding and attracting big name financial players like American Express, consumer advocates have expressed concern about a lack of regulatory oversight.

The CFPB is in the midst of developing proposed regulations targeted at prepaid debit cards, which should be released in the coming months. In the meantime, the CFPB, the federal government’s consumer watchdog for all manner of financial matters, is urging Americans who have run into problems with prepaid cards to get in touch. “By accepting consumer complaints about prepaid products and certain other services we will be giving people a greater voice in these markets and a place to turn to when they encounter problems,” says CFPB director, Richard Cordray.

In its statement announcing the move, the CFPB outlined the specific issues consumers should alert it to, including:

  • Trouble managing, opening or closing an account
  • Incorrect or unexpected fees
  • Overdraft issues
  • Frauds, scams or unauthorized transactions
  • Advertising, disclosures and marketing practices
  • Adding money and savings and rewards features

The CFPB already accepts consumer complaints about a wide range of financial products, including credit cards, mortgages, consumer loans and bank accounts. The CFPB complaint process works like this: After receiving a complaint, the CFPB expects companies to respond within 15 days and outline the steps they plan to take to address the problem. The CFPB also expects some sort of resolution to all complaints within 60 days. Consumers who do submit a complaint receive a tracking number and can follow the process on the CFPB website.

Complaints about prepaid cards can be submitted through the CFPB website. In the same announcement about accepting prepaid debit card complaints, the CFPB also said that it would begin to address problems with debt settlement and credit repair companies as well as pawn and title loans suppliers.

Chris Warren