When you owe money, there are plenty of businesses out there ready and willing to help you pay it back … for a price. But are those companies, and the contracts they offer, always on the up-and-up?One of the principal agencies charged with helping U.S. consumers navigate the troubled waters of consumer debt was supposed to have been the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. This was the agency created by last year’s Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Act. This fledgling agency, which is the brainchild of former Harvard law professor and longtime consumer rights advocate Elizabeth Warren, officially began operating in July of this year. But like so much else in Washington, the consumer bureau is itself a victim, paralyzed by Washington gridlock.
To help understand the type of situations that this bureau was designed to address, we wanted to bring you the story of one military family who took on more debt than they could handle. When they tried to pay it off, they took on even more. This report is another of our collaborations with our colleagues at the Center for Public Integrity and its iWatch News Project. The print reporter on this story was Jason McLure.