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The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is blowing out the candles on its third birthday cake today, and I hope their hard-working staff is taking a moment to celebrate a job well done. They’ve made substantial progress towards their mission of “making financial markets work for American consumers — whether they’re applying for a mortgage, borrowing for college, choosing a credit card, or using any number of other consumer financial products.”

Access to affordable banking services helps people build wealth, but some persistent barriers deter consumers from opening or keeping a bank account. In the Pew Charitable Trusts’ recent report entitled Overdrawn: Persistent Confusion and Concern About Bank Overdraft Practices , based on a nationally representative survey of American adults, the authors found that 13 percent of people who paid an overdraft penalty say they no longer have a checking account; 19 percent report responding to overdraft fees by discontinuing overdraft coverage; and 28 percent report closing a checking account in response to overdraft fees. 

CHICAGO—The Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Mel Watt, will visit Chicago today to urge homeowners to apply for the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP). HARP provides refinance opportunities to homeowners who are current on their mortgages and whose homes are worth less than the outstanding mortgage debt (also known as being underwater). In the absence of a program such as HARP, mortgage lenders do not typically approve refinances for homeowners with underwater homes.

 

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