New agency seeks help protecting military family finances

September 8, 2011

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the new federal watchdog agency, is trying to extend some extra protection to the often vulnerable members of the armed services and their families.

The CFPB is collecting information from the public about developing education programs and other initiatives aimed at those connected to the military.

“Military families face unique challenges especially when it comes to their finances,” Holly Petraeus, the CFPB’s assistant director for the Office of Servicemember Affairs, said in a statement. “We believe that open dialogue is key to addressing these challenges. By identifying the products and services that aim to assist their particular needs, our office will be able to better serve servicemembers and their families”.

The CFPB declined to elaborate further than the written statement it issued, but Petraeus — wife to former Gen. David Petraeus (now head of the CIA) — has been a longtime advocate for military families.

Under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act enacted last year, the bureau was directed to help military families with financial products and services.

Military families have long been a target of scams, often targeting the families stateside while a spouse is on deployment.

“The CFPB is doing exactly the right thing investigating ripoff financial products peddled to military families,” says National Consumers League President Sally Greenberg. “Far too many unscrupulous businesses prey on military families. It’s shameful, but it happens every day and it needs to stop. We applaud the CFPB’s efforts protect those families who serve our country from financial fraudsters.”

USAA, which provides insurance, banking and other financial services to military families, said the company will help the bureau on this project.

“We share the OSA’s (Office of Servicemember Affairs) view that military families face unique financial challenges,” USAA spokesman Roger Wildermuth says. “We welcome this focus on the military and will actively assist OSA by providing information about how we serve military families.”

He said because the company is focused on military families it has a lot of insight and its on educational campaign.

“At USAA, our mission drives us to understand military families’ unique financial needs,” he says. “USAA offers products, tools and information tailored to military families that focus on military milestones such as deployment or separating from the military. We provide those resources through employees who are trained to understand the needs of military personnel, as well as member publications, face-to-face discussions and online resources.”

The CFPB is looking for input on the following areas affecting service members and their families:

  • Financial products and services.
  • Financial educational opportunities.
  • Homeowner assistance.
  • Providing information about the most and least effective financial products and services.

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“Far too many unscrupulous businesses prey on military families. It’s shameful, but it happens every day and it needs to stop.”
The unscrupulous businesses that prey upon not just military families but to vulnerable families all over America should be prosecuted and sentenced to prison. Deregulation and laws designed to protect even unscrupulous businesses over consumers have left millions of families homeless or bankrupt while the culprits walk away enriched and able to fund Congressional campaigns and political influence. America has the best democracy that money can buy, and everyone else be damned.

Posted by Greenspan2 | Report as abusive