With the political atmosphere unsettled at best, much of the current talk out of Washington, D.C. centers on unraveling the Dodd-Frank Act.

But what would such a move mean to the normal Main Street consumer?

"Consumers should not get too freaked out in the short term," said David Reiss, a professor of law at the Brooklyn Law School. "The rollback is not going to happen overnight and we don't yet know how far it will go."

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act was passed in 2010, as a response to the financial crisis the country saw in 2007 and 2008. However, with a new administration in the White House, some now see it as too restrictive to banks.

"Consumers should focus on the fundamentals — what are their short- and medium-term goals and how can they best achieve them?" Reiss said.

Reiss said homebuyers, for instance, should stay focused on identifying a home that is affordable for the long-term, and educate themselves about how mortgages work. And homeowners should evaluate whether their current mortgage is right for them — or should they refinancing with a mortgage that has a lower interest rate?

Repealing the act could affect more than mortgages, with many pointing to the credit card industry as being impacted the most. Ben Woolsey, president of CreditCardForum.com, said many of the protections afforded in Dodd-Frank were intended to roll back abusive practices by the financial services industry, often triggered when consumers occasionally strayed — such as by paying their card late or exceeding their credit limits. These consumer errors resulted in interest rate hikes and penalty fees.

Other reforms in the law involved better disclosures and restrictions on how credit cards could be marketed to those under the age of 21, he added.

"If the regulatory pendulum once again swings in favor of lenders, consumers' best defense will be to exercise greater personal responsibility and be consistently mindful to live within the strict guidelines of their account agreements," Woolsey said.

Daniel Kern, chief investment strategist for TFC Financial Management, said the key question in his mind is does the Trump administration want better regulation of financial services — or minimal regulation?

"Many consider Dodd-Frank a 'poster child' for regulatory over-reach and improvement of Dodd-Frank could provide positive benefits for consumers and investors," Kern said. "Reduced capital requirements would enable banks to lend more to consumers and small businesses, while simplification of regulatory burdens could lower the cost of credit."

Kern added bank stocks — especially community banks with reasonably simple business models — would benefit from improvements to Dodd-Frank that reduce regulatory burdens, as banks would also be able to distribute more of their earnings to investors.

"The markets would respond positively to revised regulations that provide confidence that too-big-to fail banks would be properly capitalized and supervised, that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau would be an accountable arm of government, and that Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the FHA would cease to be a source of systemic risk," Kern said. "Financial stocks will rally if investors believe that a new, improved Dodd-Frank would be a strong, but less burdensome form of regulation for the industry."

However, Kern adds a full repeal of Dodd-Frank would have far-reaching, potentially detrimental implications for consumers and investors.

"Consumers and investors might enjoy a near-term burst of confidence, but long-term systemic risks would rise if a repeal of Dodd-Frank leads to a return to the 'Wild West' mentality that existed in financial services prior to the Global Financial Crisis," he said. "Absent vigilant regulation, banks would be likely to fall into the pathologies of the past."

The good news likely is consumers still have time to prepare.

"People have plenty of time to act, but they should also not be putting off until tomorrow the things they should be doing today," Reiss said. "We don't know where interest rates are heading, so it makes sense to be on top of things while rates are still at historically low levels, notwithstanding the bump we saw after the election."

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