Consumer Financial Protection Bureau gets strong support in poll


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Democrats and Republicans in Washington remain sharply split on the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. But a new poll from Consumers Union shows that about three-quarters of the public supports it.

A day before the new agency formally opens for business, Consumer Reports released results of a telephone survey of 1,012 people that found 74% said they strongly or somewhat supported it. Nineteen percent of respondents said they strongly or somewhat opposed the agency.


‘Americans clearly feel that the CFPB is needed to keep big banks and lenders in check,” said Pamela Banks, senior policy counsel for Consumers Union, which publishes Consumer Reports magazine.

Still, the poll found low public awareness of the agency, which has been the focus of partisan battles for about two years. Before they were asked about what the bureau might do, just 32% of respondents said they were aware the federal government had formed the agency.

Asked what the bureau’s priorities should be, 88% said it should hold financial companies accountable if they break the law. That was followed by strengthening and enforcing rules against deceptive and unfair practices by banks, credit card companies and other lenders (86%), requiring that mortgage and other documents for financial products be easier for consumers to understand (85%) and resolving complaints from consumers who have problems with financial firms (79%).

The poll, which has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, found that about a third of consumers had applied for or received a mortgage, car loan, credit card or other type of loan in the past year. About 36% of them said the disclosure documents that came with those products were not clear and easy to understand.


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-- Jim Puzzanghera