Wednesday, February 15, 2012

New Consumer Rights Under Dodd-Frank

About 18 months ago, President Obama signed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act ("Dodd-Frank" for short) into law.  As a consumer attorney, I am very pleased and excited with this 2000 page piece of legislation.  As a consumer, especially home owners, you should be ecstatic.

Dodd-Frank strengthens some of the United States' most consumer friendly federal laws.  Included in this category are the Truth in Lending Act ("TILA"), Real Estate Settlement and Procedures Act ("RESPA"), Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA") and the Fair Credit Reporting Act ("FCRA").  In addition to revising the above mentioned statutes, Dodd-Frank also created the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection ("Bureau"), a new federal agency to oversee the banks and other financial institutions.

More than a year after the passage of Dodd-Frank, many of us in the legal community are still unclear as to how far reaching the new regulations will be, the Bureau has the authority to make many of the new rules that will go into place.  We do know a few things.

1.  Consumer Protection is increased substantially, especially relating to mortgage lending and servicing.
2.  Statutory damages (civil penalties that can be imposed against banks) have increased.
3.  The ability of consumers to fight banks and obtain awards (including court costs and attorney's fees) has increased.
4.  More regulations and rules are on the horizon.

The long and the short of it is that you, the homeowner, have significant rights under federal law when it comes to your mortgage, your credit report and the way that the banks communicate with you.  If you are facing difficulties with your mortgage or your credit report, or if you suspect errors or fraudulent conduct has been committed by the bank, you need to seek the advice of a consumer protection attorney in your area with experience in this field.