Psst. Very few Americans – just 1 in 5 according to CNN – know about the newly established Bureau of Consumer Protection. Boring name, I know, but it aims to protect consumers and as a savvy spender you should know how it can help you.
The BCP covers seven areas, including advertising practices, consumer and business education, enforcement, financial practices, marketing practices, planning and information, and privacy and identity protection. Its website says:
The Bureau of Consumer Protection works to protect consumers against unfair, deceptive, or fraudulent practices in the marketplace. The Bureau conducts investigations, sues companies and people who violate the law, develops rules to protect consumers, and educates consumers and businesses about their rights and responsibilities. The Bureau also collects complaints about consumer fraud and identity theft and makes them available to law enforcement agencies across the country.
Scams are also a focus of the BCP, which has a page on weeding out free trials that aren’t free. Another page has a video on scams targeting people looking for a job. Some of them are, sadly, quite savvy. To submit a complaint about unfair business practices or a scam, visit ftc.gov/complaint.
Depending on your politics, the new agency has pros (consumer protection and education) or cons (more restrictions on financial products and more government oversight). I’m hopeful that the BCP will, in fact, protect and educate consumers about predatory lending and other ridiculous business practices that got us into the mortgage crisis, while not letting consumers off the hook (greed and irresponsibility played a huge role, too).
Do you think the Bureau of Consumer Protection will make a difference?