Specialist in Financial Economics
Consumers interact with the financial system as borrowers, savers, and investors. They do business with a panoply of firms and intermediaries and with each other. A wide range of federal laws and regulations seeks to protect them from unethical, fraudulent, and unfair financial practices and to ensure that they receive adequate information to assess the risks and costs of financial services and products.
Consumer financial protection responsibilities are divided among a number of federal agencies, including
• the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which is the principal federal regulator of consumer transactions that do not involve a regulated financial institution, and which works to protect consumers against unfair, deceptive, or fraudulent practices in the marketplace;
• the Federal Reserve, which has primary responsibility for writing rules to enforce the consumer provisions of federal banking laws;
• the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which regulates the public stock and bond markets;
• the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), which monitors trading in futures markets and is charged with preventing commodity price manipulation;
• the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which regulates certain aspects of home mortgage lending;
• the Department of Labor, which regulates employer pension plans;
• the Department of Education, which has some oversight responsibility over student lending; and
• the Farm Credit Administration (FCA), which oversees nonbank lending to farmers.
Regulatory reform legislation before the 111th Congress (H.R. 4173, passed by the House on December 11, 2009, and Senator Dodd's Restoring American Financial Stability Act, as ordered reported by the Senate Banking Committee on March 22, 2010) would consolidate much consumer financial protection authority in a single entity—a new agency in the House version, a bureau within the Federal Reserve in the Senate. For more on these proposals, see CRS Report R40696, Financial Regulatory Reform: Analysis of the Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA) as Proposed by the Obama Administration and H.R. 3126, by David H. Carpenter and Mark Jickling.
This report briefly sets out the current division of consumer financial protection responsibilities among the various federal agencies.
Date of Report: April 9 2010
Number of Pages: 10
Order Number: R40857
Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.
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