Kara McGuire writes about all things related to personal finance. Follow our coupon clipping, retirement saving, bargain hunting, budget mama as she saves, spends and searches for ways to keep more money in her wallet – and yours.

Better credit card disclosures next on CFPB's radar

Posted by: Kara McGuire under Credit cards Updated: December 7, 2011 - 10:37 AM

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau collects credit card complaints,  amassing more than 5,000 complaints in just six months.

Now it's using those complaints and other known issues with credit card disclosures to launch its next phase of the "Know Before You Owe" project.

The watchdog agency has created a credit card disclosure prototype and would like consumers to comment.

The prototype explains the costs, risks and features of the credit card in easy-to-understand language, with the disclosures in big-enough-to-read-without-a-magnifying-glass type.

The prototype defines industry terms that are often used in disclosures without explanation.

And the prototype is far shorter than the teeny fine print disclosures currently common in the industry, with just 1,100 words compared to the 5,000 word industry average.

 In a speech delivered in Cleveland this morning, CFPB special adviser Raj Date said the CARD Act greatly improved the credit card market for consumers. But more improvement is needed. "The bottom line is that many credit card agreements are confusing and most consumers don’t understand them," Date said.

Consumers need to stop blindly accepting the legal contracts that are common in modern life. And financial institutions need to start thinking about how to make the terms of their financial products easier for users to understand. This prototype is a first step. The CFPB is accepting comments, so check it out.

 The Know Before You Owe Project started by tackling mortgage disclosures, and then moved on to student loans, in an initiative launched in October at the University of Minnesota.

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