WASHINGTON (9/8/11)--The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) Office of Servicemember Affairs has asked for industry and public comment on “the products and services institutions currently offer that are specifically designed to benefit the military community.” The CFPB Office of Servicemember Affairs works to shield U.S. servicemembers and their families from abusive financial practices and monitors servicemember questions and complaints regarding consumer financial products and services. It also coordinates responses with CFPB staff and other federal and state agencies. The Servicemember Affairs division is led by Holly Petraeus, who has previously served as the director of the Better Business Bureau (BBB) Military Line, a joint BBB/Department of Defense project that provides consumer education and advocacy for military families. She is the wife of General David Petraeus and the daughter of a former West Point superintendent. Credit Union National Association (CUNA) staff have met with Petraeus, and plan to cover how credit unions serve their military members and their families in future discussions. CUNA is also planning to release a comment call on this CFPB initiative. CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney has noted that Petraeus is a “strong supporter of credit unions,” and added that “CUNA looks forward to continuing our work with her.” Among the issues the CFPB specifically has asked for information on are:
*Any assistance offered to servicemembers that are distressed homeowners, including specific mortgage modifications, accommodations for servicemembers that receive permanent change of station orders, or alterations for wounded, ill or injured servicemembers, or surviving spouses of deceased servicemembers; *Short-term lending products that are tailored to the needs of servicemembers and their families; and *Any products, services, programs, policies, or practices that are tailored to the unique financial needs of servicemembers and their families, or marketed to these servicemembers and their families.
The CFPB noted that these services and programs may address deployments, permanent-change-of-station moves, overseas assignments, relocations, and other circumstances. The CFPB has also asked for details on how these beneficial services are marketed to servicemembers, and which types of marketing are most effective. The CFPB said the information provided will help the agency develop financial education and outreach initiatives for military families. Petraeus noted that “military families face unique challenges especially when it comes to their finances,” and said that "open dialogue is key to addressing these challenges." The CFPB is accepting comments until Sept. 20.