The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau regulates money transfers and lays out what your legal rights are when sending money domestically or internationally — and what you can do if they’ve been violated.
Things have changed since 2010, when Congress passed the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act in the fallout of 2008’s financial crisis. Until 2010, regulation was fragmented among consumer protection agencies whose terminology didn’t always agree.
Dodd–Frank immediately set to expand the 1978 Electronic Funds Transfer Act to include disclosures and procedures that protect consumers when sending, withdrawing or moving around their money.
Importantly, Dodd–Frank established the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which regulates the financial products Americans use every day: credit cards, loans — and even international money transfers. Today, the CFPB enforces compliance with the Remittance Transfer Rule that applies to international remittances of $15 or more.
What does the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau do?
The CFPB is an independent US government agency authorized by the Dodd–Frank Act of 2010 to protect consumers doing business with banks and credit unions, mortgage providers, payday lenders, foreclosure services, debt collectors and independent money transfer specialists.
Its priorities began with mortgages, credit cards and student loans but since expanded to other consumer financial products and services. In short, it provides protection from any financial institution — traditional or otherwise — you might come in contact with when moving around your money.
It not only regulates protections, but it also solicits and publishes consumer complaints to the public to help others make more informed financial decisions.
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The CFPB’s Remittance Transfer Rule requires most banks, credit unions and independent financial services to provide you with clear, detailed information upfront and after any money transfer of $15 or more.
Before your money transfer
Before you agree to your money transfer, your provider must provide you with:
The exact exchange rate you’ll receive.
The total fees and taxes you’ll pay for your transfer.
Fees you’ll pay to any overseas agent involved in the process.
The total your recipient will receive on their end.
Your bank or provider is also required to disclose and define any important terms you don’t understand, how it will resolve any problems and how you can cancel your transfer.
After your money transfer
Your provider must provide you with:
A receipt confirming your payment, expected arrival, instructions on your right to cancel and how you can report a problem.
The right to cancel your transfer without penalty up to 30 minutes after you’ve initiated it, unless your money is picked up or deposited into your recipient’s account.
If you discover a problem with your transfer — your money isn’t received as promised, for instance — you have up to 180 days to report it for investigation. At that time, your bank or provider has 90 days to work through any problems and report its outcome. In some cases, you can get a refund or resend your transfer at no additional cost.
The CFPB under fire
In June 2017, the Trump administration proposed making good on its campaign promise to curb the Dodd–Frank Act and how the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau regulates financial industries overall based on what it considers an overreach of power.
Soon after, in September 2017, the State Education Department ended its agreements with the CFPB to share data on student loans, limiting the agency’s oversight into student lending.
Time will tell how far President Trump limits this watchdog agency’s regulatory oversight. But it doesn’t appear that the CFPB will go without a fight: In October 2017 — after five years of haggling with Congress — it finalized a rule that prevents rollover charges and refinancing on payday loans, much to the chagrin of the lending community.
Common questions about transfer protections
If you need to cancel your transfer within 30 minutes, federal law guarantees a refund without penalty. Simply call or visit — in person or online — the provider you used to send your transfer. If you can log in to your online account, you may have the option of canceling there.
If you initiated the transfer more than 30 minutes before, search your provider’s website for information on canceling or stopping a money transfer. Or call a representative to learn how you can start the process of halting your transaction.
First, contact the money transfer company directly to explain your problem. Under the federal Remittance Transfer Rule, you have up to 180 days to report the issue, and the company has 90 days to investigate it and provide you with an accepted resolution.
If you don’t get a satisfactory response, contact the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau at 855-411-2372. The CFPB will follow up with the company on your behalf.
It might. The answer depends on the language that a company uses to advertise its services where you made your transfer. In general, if a company uses your language in advertisements, sales or promotional materials where you initiated your transfer, it should provide the details of your transfer in that language. Contact the CFPB with specific questions.
Dawn Daniels is a publisher with Finder, based out of Oregon. Her background includes editing more than 40 published books, including books on personal finance and meditation. In her spare time, Dawn enjoys hiking ridiculous distances and collapsing in exhaustion.
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