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Top Credit Card Stories of 2012

5. Monitoring of credit bureaus
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is now monitoring credit bureaus to bring transparency and public accountability to credit reporting agencies. This fall, it began monitoring more than 30 of the country's biggest credit bureaus to investigate if they were following the law. This is a big step for the federal government, which has never had widespread access to information about the credit reporting industry. The CFPB will also have oversight over specialty credit reporting companies, including those that focus on payday loans, resell credit reports and analyze credit report information. According to the CFPB, each of the three biggest credit reporting companies maintain files on an estimated 200 million Americans gathered from more than 10,000 providers of information. Approximately 3 billion credit reports are issued annually and more than 36 billion updates are made to consumer credit files.

6. The impact of the CFPB
Cracking down on deceptive telemarketing practices and monitoring credit bureaus shows the power and impact of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Formed July 21, 2011, the young agency has made strides to help consumers in various ways.

In October, the CFPB proposed a rule to make it easier for stay-at-home spouses to get a credit card by allowing them to rely on shared income when applying for a credit card account, rather than individual income.

In June, the CFPB created a database to take credit card complaints and made this information public, showing which issuers have had the most complaints on their cards and how specific complaints were ultimately handled. The data are searchable by company, consumer ZIP code and type of complaint. Before this, there was no way for consumers to see the complaints or response rate when comparing credit card issuers.

The CFPB reviews each complaint and forwards ones that meet its criteria to the appropriate company for review and resolution. Companies have 15 days to provide a response to each consumer complaint, and most are expected to be resolved and closed within 60 days. The filer can track the progress of a complaint and dispute the resolution provided by the financial institution. If the CFPB finds possible legal violations, it will work with other parts of the bureau to deal with the potential violation. The database does not include private information.

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