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Learn How To Understand Financial Jargon

It can be hard to understand the language of financial products and services. Just what exactly is a grace period? What about an ARM? A balloon payment? And while the Internet can serve up an answer, how can you be sure it’s the right one?

Ask CFPB, a new interactive online tool from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), can help.

Say you’re thinking about buying a home. You could type in a question to Ask CFPB’s search box, or you could browse the list of questions in the Mortgage category. Once you’ve done a search, you can also filter by topic, like “fees” or “closing,” or by populations, like servicemembers, students, and older Americans.

Ask CFPB contains three general categories of questions and answers:

  1. Definitions: Financial products and terms are often described in industry jargon. Ask CFPB translates the jargon into clear definitions. You can get answers to questions like, “What is a credit report?” or “What is a reverse mortgage?”
  2. Explanations: Financial products can include many complicated terms and features, and it can be difficult for you to understand how they work. Ask CFPB provides you with general information and explanations on terms and features of financial products
  3. Situations : Ask CFPB arms you with information and tips to help you navigate various situations. For example, you can use to the tool to ask, “What if my lender quoted me one rate at application but raised it at closing?”

Ask CFPB also lets you provide feedback. You can rate an answer “Helpful,” “Too long,” “Confusing,” or “Incorrect.” And if you don’t find the answer you’re looking for, you can submit a question for consideration.

Our Ask CFPB database currently contains more than 350 questions and answers, primarily focused on credit cards and mortgages. In the coming months, the CFPB will continue to build the database to answer questions about a range of financial products and services, including student loans, auto loans, checking and savings accounts, and prepaid cards.

So visit ConsumerFinance.gov/askcfpb, take a look, and let us know what you think!