News From Our Blog

Talk through what you do with money—your children are listening

By CFPB and FDIC

Parents tell us they want to help their children be smart about money. But they’re not always confident about how to go about it.

We’ve got a suggestion: Talk through your money choices with your child as you go. (If you already do this, great!) You don’t have to change anything that you choose to do with your money. But your kids need a window into how to think about spending, saving, borrowing and more. You can show them how you think about these important choices.

Next time you pay a bill, or buy something online, or go grocery shopping, try speaking your thoughts out loud. “Now I’m looking at our electric bill, and I’m checking to see if it’s the right amount. And I’m looking at the due date, so I know whether the payment is on time or late.” This talk helps your child start to understand how to think about transactions. Over time, your child can turn these thoughts into good habits.

Protecting servicemembers from predatory auto loans: Harry and Ari’s story

By Ashley Gordon, CFPB

Watch Harry and Ari’s story

Protecting consumers from predatory financial products and services is part of our mission and something we take very seriously. We received a Tell Your Story from the father of a servicemember that led to us opening an investigation into an auto loan program. The program, which targeted servicemembers, was found to have deceptive marketing and lending practices. The investigation led to an enforcement action against auto lenders requiring them to refund approximately $6.5 million to over 50,000 servicemembers. Ari, a servicemember, and his father Harry, shared their story with us, and here’s what they had to say:

 “It’s very important to speak up because there are people within the government that are there to help us get through challenging financial situations,” Harry said. “It’s very important for any citizen to speak up and just tell your story.” Ari mentioned that: “The fact that the CFPB took action in the name of servicemembers across the entire country… really shows us that someone’s in our corner.”

 We were glad to be there for Harry and Ari - they shared their story with us and got the help they needed. To learn more about their story, share your own, or find resources for servicemembers check out www.consumerfinance.gov/yourstory.

You don’t have to give children an allowance—but if you do, talk about it

By CFPB and FDIC

Giving children an allowance is a topic many parents discuss. Even within families, parents can disagree about whether it’s a good idea.

Research doesn’t conclusively prove whether or not having an allowance helps children achieve better financial well-being as adults. However, research does suggest how to make an allowance work well for your children, if you do decide to give one.

Don’t just hand over the money and leave it at that. Make it part of your conversations. Talk about what the family budget still covers. For example, you can clarify that the child’s meals with the family, school clothes, and school supplies are the family’s responsibility. The child’s own expenses, like clothes he wants to buy or apps she wants to add, should come from the allowance.

If you give the allowance weekly, check in each week and ask about what the child decided to do with the money. Did she save any of it for a future goal? What did he learn about spending, saving, or planning ahead? Does she want to make changes to how she spends money next time?

Some families decide to pay children for certain chores. If this sounds like your family, you can have similar conversations about what your child earned.

Whether to give an allowance at all is a choice each family should make. To make the most of an allowance if you choose to give one, commit to giving your child some of your own time and guidance along with it.

Disputing debt you never owed: William’s story

By: Ashley Gordon, CFPB

Watch William’s story

Being on the hook for a debt you don’t owe is not only stressful, but can be scary. If you don’t know where to turn, you might feel hopeless. We heard from William, who was receiving calls for a debt he didn’t owe. William tried to resolve the issue for over four years, seeing his credit get ruined in the process. He said “None of them could do anything… except tell me I had to pay them the $8,500.”

Stories like William’s are important because it’s often hard to know where to turn and who to trust for help. Because William submitted a complaint, he was able to end a four year long credit dispute in one week.

“Just to have the situation resolved…that just felt good.” William said. “In a situation for me that was seemingly endless and hopeless, the CFPB helped me to find resolution. It’s a new day.”    

We’re glad William got the help he needed, and we want to make sure that you know that we’re here for you too. To share your experience or learn more from others, visit us at www.consumerfinance.gov/yourstory.

 

What to do if Someone Steals Your Identity

Identity theft occurs when someone steals your name and other personal information, such as your Social Security or driver’s license numbers, and uses it without your permission.

What to do if Someone Steals Your Identity
If you think you may be a victim of identity theft:

The FTC’s ID Theft Affidavit is a form that you can use to report information to businesses, notifying them that there is a fraudulent debt in your name. Download a copy of the ID Theft Affidavit (PDF | requires Adobe Acrobat Reader) or call the FTC’s ID Theft Hotline at 1-877-IDTHEFT (1-877-438-4338) to get a copy.

Security Freeze
Some states allow you to place a “security freeze” on your credit report, which will keep businesses from issuing credit to a thief. The cost of a security freeze varies from state to state, and is not available in every state. Contact your state consumer protection office for more information about your state security freeze laws.