The newest way to solve your consumer problems

Mike Furrow of Bowie, Texas turned to Watchdog Nation in September 2011 with a vexing credit card problem.

“I received an offer from Citicard for an AAdvantage Visa card with the opportunity to earn 60,000 AAdvantage bonus miles,” he wrote. “I applied for the card via telephone. When the card arrived, it was an American Express card. I have had an American Express card in the past and did not want an American Express card.

“I have been working with Citicard since mid-July trying to resolve this situation, including faxing them the original Visa offer I received in the mail. Do you have a complaint number high up in the Citicard organization?”

As readers of the Dave Lieber Watchdog column in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram first learned, instead, Watchdog Nation suggested that Furrow turn to a higher Watchdog power — the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which opened in July 2011.

Watchdog Nation wanted to test the new agency, created by Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama. It has been assigned some huge responsibilities: It is supposed to regulate the financial industry and make sure that consumers grasp what they are buying through clear and easy-to-understand language.

Furrow filed a complaint on the bureau’s website, ConsumerFinance.gov.

Two weeks later, he let me know the good news: “I used your suggestion on the new CFPB and received the desired resolution! Citicard apologized for my inconvenience and gave me an AAdvantage Visa card I had requested in my original application. Thanks.”

Really, the thanks goes to the new bureau, which was created as part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

Furrow is one of 3,100 consumers whose complaints about credit card problems have been successfully resolved, the bureau told Watchdog Nation.

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Watchdog Nation wants to make sure that everyone understands the bureau’s role, because it promises to be helpful in many areas.

Its website is ConsumerFinance.gov (not to be confused with ConsumerFinance.org, which is a separate credit-counseling site).

The bureau’s mission statement says it’s “a 21st century agency that helps consumer finance markets work by making rules more effective and fairly enforcing those rules, and by empowering consumers to take more control over their economic lives.”

The bureau and its 700 employees started with its credit card complaint program.

Five thousand complaints were received in the first three months, ranging from confusion about credit terms to third-party fraud and factual disputes, such as Furrow’s.

The bureau has begun taking complaints about home mortgages and home loans. In 2012, the bureau will start accepting complaints about all financial products and services, including checking accounts and consumer loans.

Specialty areas in the future will focus on helping military families deal with housing issues, payday loans and financial education.

Another part of the bureau will focus on helping older Americans.

Still another part has begun creating a Financial Aid Shopping Sheet designed to standardize information about student loans and grants so students can compare financial aid offers from schools.

The bureau also created a Student Debt Repayment tool to help people understand what options they have based on their income level.

Watchdog Nation suggests that you visit ConsumerFinance.gov and bookmark it.

The website offers the latest information and makes it easy to file a complaint.

The bureau will also write new regulatory rules, and the website asks for ideas on the many areas it will oversee.

If the quick response to Furrow’s problem is any indication, it’s going to be a lot easier to battle financial institutions that don’t treat their customers as they should.

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Dave Lieber shows Americans how to fight back against corporate deceptions in his wonderful national award-winning book, Dave Lieber’s Watchdog Nation: Bite Back When Businesses and Scammers Do You Wrong. Are you tired of losing time, money and aggravation to all the assaults on our wallets? Learn how to fight back with ease — and win. Get the book here.

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