Financial watchdog now ‘barks’ in Spanish

Published: Friday, July 05, 2013

Santiago attended CFPB's field hearing in Los Angeles on CFPB's Spanish language website

Consumer Action’s Nelson Santiago, who attended the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s field hearing in Los Angeles in May, reports that participants were introduced to the CFPB’s newly launched Spanish language website.

Although the agency had already been handling phone calls from consumers in Spanish and other languages, online information in Spanish had not been available on the CFPB's site until the unveiling of CFPB en Español. Santiago strolled a few short blocks from Consumer Action's downtown Los Angeles office to learn more about the new resource for Spanish-speaking consumers.

Peter Jackson, the CFPB’s assistant director for consumer engagement, talked about the Bureau’s role in engaging and educating the American public to enable consumers to make smart financial decisions for themselves and for their families. Jackson stressed that the CFPB is committed to serving all consumers, but chose to begin its specialized outreach to immigrant communities with the Latino community. Jackson cited statistics showing that one in six U.S. consumers is Latino and 37 million people in the U.S. primarily speak Spanish at home.

During the development of CFPB en Español, Bureau staff interviewed Spanish-speaking consumers, Latino community advocates and companies experienced in reaching and engaging Spanish speakers. Jackson noted that this approach allowed the agency to prioritize the information and content that would be most relevant to Spanish-speaking consumers. According to Jackson, the Bureau employed and consulted with native speakers to create the content and design of “CFPB en Español.”

During a tour of the website’s features, Jackson said the Spanish site was designed to be mobile compatible because U.S. mobile broadband adoption is growing fastest among Latinos. On the CFPB website, it says that two-thirds of Latinos who go online tend to access the Internet from a mobile device.

Santiago spent some time getting to know the new CFPB en Español site. “It’s quite easy to navigate,” he says.

From the home page, visitors can access frequently asked questions, information about complaint handling, and an “About Us” area featuring a video by Assistant Director for Community Affairs Zixta Martinez, who describes the work of the Bureau in Spanish.

The Q&A section contains nine topics: buying a home, buying a car, managing a bank account, choosing a prepaid card, managing debt, paying for college, remittances, building credit and getting a credit card. Clicking on building credit (“Adquirir crédito”) yields 72 questions with answers. These can be further filtered down by subtopic.

The page for filing complaints ("Presentar una queja") very clearly tells consumers the specific types of complaints the CFPB handles: credit cards, mortgages, student loans, remittances, credit reports and scores, bank accounts and bank services, auto loans and consumer loans. In six easy-to-read and illustrated steps, the page explains what happens after a complaint is filed, including steps taken by the Bureau to secure a response.

At the moment, there is no Spanish complaint form, however the complaints page offers a toll-free number (855-411-2372) and reassures consumers that complaints can be handled in Spanish. (Clicking on the link for complaining online currently leads to the English online complaint section.)

“Until the online complaint form is available in Spanish, Consumer Action recommends that monolingual Spanish speakers, and those who don't read English well, call the CFPB to file their complaints or find help with the online form,” notes Santiago.

Santiago, who frequently helps respond to Spanish complaints at Consumer Action, says that he often refers consumers to the CFPB. “Consumers often need information about their rights before they file complaints,” he explained. “I'm pleased that the Bureau has posted current information on a variety of topics, especially areas where it’s made recent regulatory changes, such as remittances.”

The CFPB says the Spanish site is “just the beginning—we want to continue to expand to include more resources and tools in languages other than English so that we can reach as many people as effectively as possible.”

 

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