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Chelsea talks about her first-hand experience dealing with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) when she had an issue with her mortgage provider. Click here to get your *~exclusively discounted~* tickets to our upcoming course The Entrepreneur Bootcamp with the code 'YOUTUBEVIP':

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Hey, guys.

I'm Chelsea. And I'm Lauren.

And we are The Financial Diet. And you're probably wondering what I'm doing here again after such a long hiatus from video. Well, it's funny you guys should ask because we're actually here because we're doing something extremely exciting together later this month.

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Hey, guys. It's Chelsea from The Financial Diet, and today we're going to do something that I have watched on YouTube probably a million times by now as someone who watches a lot of YouTube but have never actually done on this channel because I just didn't really feel like I had a good enough reason to do it. And that's a story time.

Now, if I were a more savvy YouTuber, I would probably be doing this story while doing my makeup or doing a mukbang. But you just get me on my couch where I usually am, unfortunately. But it is a real story, and it's something that happened several months ago but which I wanted to wait until the story was completely figured out and wrapped with a neat little bow because I never, ever like to count my chickens, especially when it comes to financial stuff.

But as you can tell by the title, I literally sicced the government on a bank. And I did not set out intending to do that. It certainly was not a fun experience.

So it's not as if I just recommend it for fun. But it is something that taught me quite a lot about finances in general and the resources that are available to consumers. But also I think it's an experience that some of you might benefit from hearing or could relate to, and whatever.

It's just very TFD worthy, so here we go. Just a quick clarification that I'm not going to mention the name of the bank here, not because we work with them. We don't.

Not because I'm like trying to get their business. I'm not. But just because I don't really think it's super relevant.

I think this can happen anywhere and I really don't want to make this just some super pointed call out video. They did end up doing the right thing in the end, even if forced to by a regulatory government agency. So it is what it is.

So let's get into the story. Settle in. Get your beverage.

This looks like regular water, but it's really flat sparkling water that's been sitting here for a while. It's flavored too. I tried a new flavor.

I tried a new brand of sparkling water at the store. Almost always a mistake, and this one's no exception. Anyway, so I hope you're settled in.

Story time. So as many of you know, some of you know, all of you know. I bought a home last year-- you're looking at it, or part of it-- an apartment here in New York City, in Manhattan to be specific.

And that was awesome. I did a whole video that you can see about the process of it and what went into it and what made it the right decision for me, and all the nitty gritty about home buying. Won't get into that here.

But an important piece of context to this story is that we bought an apartment in what is called a co-op, a cooperative. It's kind of a strange concept, and it doesn't exist a ton of places outside of New York. But in New York City, about 75% of the housing stock is co-ops.

So if you're not open to buying a co-op, you have pretty limited options. And basically, to explain a co-op in as simple terms as possible, it's essentially a cooperative of all of the apartments in a building, that the building itself functions as a business. And rather than owning your apartment as a standalone unit, you own shares in that building that are relative to the particulars of your apartment.

When it comes to selling your apartment, the value, all that stuff, it still you can think of it as owning property. But it's just like you're much more involved with the building itself and the building runs as a one cohesive unit. And there are a lot of positives and negatives to that.

Some people really don't ever want to live in a co-op. Some people only want to live in a co-op. Obviously, some of the positives, if you live in a building with a really good co-op, like we are lucky enough to do, is that the building itself is super well maintained.

There's a really high level of accountability for all of the residents. You can work collectively on improving the value of the building overall. There are a lot of great elements to it.

There can be some drawbacks. And one of the drawbacks of a co-op is that generally it's a much longer process to actually close on your apartment. In our specific case, we were just under 120 days between our offer being accepted and actually closing, which is not really that uncommon with co-ops.

And why is that? It's, in large part, because co-ops, rather than just having to get your mortgage approved and all of that as you do when you're buying a standalone home or a condo, you also have to be approved by the condo board to be the kind of person they want in their building. Are you going to make a ton of noise?

Are you going to throw a ton of parties? Are you going to completely destroy the interior of your unit? Whatever it might be.

They interview you. You have to provide an enormous amount of documentation. We had a bunch of people write letters of reference to our personal character.

And they straight up just called our friends to verify that we were chill people. So in that respect, it can take a lot longer. So one of the ways in which people often speed up the process or help facilitate the process of getting into a co-op is it can be generally beneficial to work with a bank for your mortgage that has already done mortgages in the building, works frequently with the co-op, et cetera.

It makes the process smoother on both sides. And also where it can come in handy, and this is especially important when you're buying in a big city, is during the appraisal process. This means that basically that bank has already demonstrated that they are fairly appraising the units in the building according to their real market value.

And an appraisal, essentially, when you're getting a mortgage in any case, is you have someone from the bank come and look at the home or a piece of property that you're buying, assessing its value comparable to other properties in the area, and just basically being like, yes, I actually think it's worth as much as this person is going to pay for it. And we are comfortable giving them a mortgage based on that value. Now, this can also be an issue when in super, hyper-inflated housing markets, like what was happening in the suburbs around New York City, especially during the height of COVID, when people are paying way over value for a home.

That often will mean that they have to come up with more cash up front because a bank is not going to agree to an appraisal that is super high above real market value in these crazy markets where people are just trampling each other to outbid each other. But also in big cities this can be an issue because often the appraisers don't live in the cities where they're actually sent to appraise. And you will hear many stories of appraisers coming from, I don't know, like suburban Connecticut and getting out of their car in Brooklyn and being like, honey, where am I?

This home is worth like $1,000,000 less than the sellers are saying that it is, or whatever it might be. So all of that is to say there are a lot of benefits of working with a bank that works with the building a lot. And I got an interest rate of 2.875%, which was fantastic then, and something that I was really comfortable with.

The terms of the mortgage were comfortable. I did look at other options, but I felt comfortable going with this bank even though it wasn't my usual bank, and I didn't really have any particular relationship with them and I was kind of starting from zero. But so cut to everything is approved.

We're moved into the building. I get the keys, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And so now I am in the portal of this new bank that I've set up to make the mortgage payments via wire transfer from my primary bank where I have my checking account.

So I make the initial payment. I get an email right away saying we received your payment. All is well.

I go on with my life. I didn't really think too much of it. About a week later, I get an actual letter from my bank.

There was no email. There was no electronic correspondence before this. I get a physical letter from my bank saying your payment was bounced.

So you need to pay again. And I had paid a little bit over a week early at this time, so I actually still had a couple of days where I could pay and not be late for it. But I was like, what the hell happened?

So I go back on to the online portal, and there it shows payment received. And then several days later it just shows, like when you actually go into the status of the account, it doesn't show up on your dashboard or anything. You go into the status of the account, and it shows payment rejected.

Or it was very, very vague language, essentially. And so I was like, OK. So I initiate the payment.

I go back-- my first thought was like, oh, did I not have enough money in my checking account. But I was like, that makes no sense. I definitely always have way more.

So I went back and I double checked. I made the payment. And same thing.

The email comes through pretty much immediately being like, we received your payment. OK. I also simultaneously initiated the next month's payment just so I could be super ahead of schedule and just not risk something like this happening again.

I should also note here that I generally don't set up auto payments with anything until I've confirmed that the payment system works well. And this is just another really good reminder that, if you're going to set something and forget it, you better be damn sure that everything is set up correctly and that the payments are actually being processed. So I keep checking it religiously.

Days go by. Nothing happens. It shows that my remaining balance on my mortgage is lower by those two payments.

Everything seems normal. Cut to day five or six, the payment is then bounced again. I literally had to go into the portal and refresh the page again just to see that it had an update on my account.

And it just kept saying that same thing, returned payment reversal. So I see that happened, and of course, I immediately get on the phone with customer service because now I actually am late for that first payment and I'm like, what is happening? I go through the process with customer service.

Of course, they immediately are like, do you have enough funds in your bank account? I'm like, yes, that's the first thing I checked. Obviously, I would not be wasting my time on hold with cust-- I didn't say this.

I don't talk to people this way. But in my mind I was like I'm not going to be sitting here wasting three hours holding on customer service if the question was just that I didn't have enough money in my checking account. So they were like, we're going to look into this on our end.

We recommend that you try with another bank account to see if this still happens, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Meanwhile, I get a manila envelope-size letter in my mail from my bank that says that you are now in default on your mortgage and that you are in danger of having your home repossessed by the bank. And I was like, what?

And of course, crying, sobbing, freaking out. What the hell is happening? Immediately, of course, get back on the phone with the bank.

By this time, I have now also tried my husband's account. It too has been rejected several days later for the same reasons. Oh, and just by the way, fun fact on this.

The mortgage brokers, you guys were so responsive when you were trying to get me to close on that house, nary a goddamn one of you had anything to say to me when I literally couldn't make the payments go through and was apparently in danger of having my home repossessed at this point. So thanks, mortgage brokers. Couldn't even pass me on to someone who could help.

But all of that is to say, so at this point I'm back on the phone with customer service. I'm like, what is going on? They were like, go into a branch.

I'm like, I live in New York City. There is literally not one single branch of your bank in my city. Drive to frickin' Rhode Island, I guess, was the next piece of advice.

And I'm like, I don't even have a car. I'm a New Yorker. What, I'm going to bike to Rhode Island?

They finally passed me to a higher level of customer service person. This woman was so sweet. She ultimately was not able to help solve the problem, but she was at least super sweet, super empathetic.

I was on the phone with her, and I was like, I got this letter that says that I'm in default, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. She was like, oh, my god. Sweetie, she's like, I'm so sorry.

They had no right to even send that because you're in the 60 day grace period. In this period of time you can't even go into default. You can't have this happen to you during the 60 day grace period after you sign on your mortgage.

And I was like, well, that would have been good to know. And she's like, I'm so sorry. We've been having this issue a lot.

Those letters have been going out to people erroneously. And I was like, excuse me? This is a thing that's happening, is that you're just sending threatening letters because, again, this was an extremely scary letter.

I still have it. I actually should probably burn it as sort of like a cleansing exercise. But suffice to say, she was like, listen, I'm going to talk to my colleagues.

I'm going to get to the bottom of this. We're going to figure out what's happening. And again, you go into the portal, no information there other than that super vague language.

No emails about this, just increasingly scary letters, which are apparently being sent erroneously anyway. So at this point, I'm really banging my head against the wall. I'm like, what the hell do I do?

So I was just, by chance, talking to a colleague about this, just kind of like, it's been a stressful week. This is what's happening. And she was like, oh, my god.

Basically, the exact same thing happened to us with my husband's student loans, and we ended up having to go through the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to actually resolve the problem. And this is just for those who don't know what the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is in their own words. "The Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection is an independent bureau within the Federal Reserve System that empowers consumers with the information they need to make financial decisions in the best interest of them and their families. The CFPB was created under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

The purpose of the CFPB is to promote fairness and transparency for mortgages, credit cards, and other consumer financial products and services. The CFPB will set and enforce clear consistent rules that allow banks and other consumer financial services providers to compete on a level playing field and let customers see clearly the costs and features of their products and services. The functions of the CFPB to assist people in borrowing money or using other financial services include implementing and enforcing federal consumer financial laws, reviewing business practices to ensure that financial services providers are following the law, monitoring the marketplace, and taking appropriate action to make sure markets work as transparently as they can for consumers, and establishing a toll free consumer hotline and website for complaints and questions about consumer financial products and services." And if you were saying to yourself, that sounds like some queen [BLEEP]..

That's because it was originally conceived by Elizabeth Warren, who, while absolutely not perfect as a politician, is one of the few that seems actually interested in somewhat regulating the financial industry. So my colleague was just like, go file a complaint. The portal is super easy to use.

It indeed is. It's linked below in the description. It could not be more intuitive.

And basically, all you do is write out what's happening in as simple terms as you can, and then attach as much evidence as you can. I had like 10 screenshots. I scanned the letters.

I had records of how many times I called them. Timestamps on everything. I was ready to go.

So I basically immediately receive a confirmation email from the CFPB being like, we received your complaint. Someone has now been assigned to it. We will be investigating this and you will be hearing updates within the next few days.

And it also told you how you could follow along with your case in the portal, which I have to just say is infinitely easier to use than this bank's mortgage payment system. So in about four days I got an extremely stressed out email from some much higher up person at this bank copying a whole bunch of people, some senior vise president being like, oh, I've heard that you've been having trouble using our online mortgage payment systems. I would love nothing more than to help you.

They also had to legally, I guess, disclose that they had been contacted by the CFPB about my complaint. So shout out to the CFPB. They literally had someone in my email inbox who was ready to solve the problem within a matter of days.

Because, unlike if you're just repeatedly complaining to customer service, or I guess writing scathing reviews on Yelp, which is I guess how all of the libertarians want consumer financial protections to function. If you as a financial institution have the CFPB up your [BLEEP],, you're actually facing things like serious fines, investigations, and all kinds of stuff that they don't want to be happening. People might actually get fired.

So I'm getting emails from this woman. I'm getting personal phone calls. I'm literally-- she's sending me pictures of her children.

I'm kidding. Truly, this woman is my best friend now essentially. And she's like, we are figuring this out.

They got IT people on it. They got financial people on it. They looped my brokers back in, and they're like, you guys better help figure this out.

They were on their stuff. And within about two days they were like, oh, we figured out the problem. And I'm like, oh, interesting.

I'd love to hear what the problem was. And they were like, so unfortunately, when you were actually applying your payments, you used a different routing number than the one that our bank needs. So for those who might not know, many banks have different routing numbers for different types of transfers.

They have electronic. They have wire transfers. They have paper transfers, and all of them often have different routing numbers.

So I used a different routing number than the one that they needed for this type of transfer. Now, I must stress again, at no point was that identified as the problem. There was zero language around why the payments were being refused.

There was also zero email communication about this. Customer service was unable to identify it. And this went on for over a month because of the complete lack of transparency around how this happened.

So technically, they were like, OK, well, so this is an initial consumer error, but because of all of the difficulties in actually addressing and solving the problem on our end, we are going to be addressing this as our fault. They removed some late fees. They were like, we're going to return your account back to in good standing, whatever their language is there.

They're like, we're going to fix the problem here and make sure that the payment goes through properly and that this won't happen again. And I was like, OK, that's a great start, but what about my credit report, which has now taken a substantial hit because I went from having a perfect payment history to having these huge black marks of lateness from my mortgage bank. That's a problem.

We got to solve that one too. And initially, the people that I was talking to were like, oh, yeah, unfortunately because this was initially a consumer error on your part, we're not going to be able to fix that. And I was like, really, because I still got the CFPB on the line, and I'm not afraid to sic them on your [BLEEP] again.

Now, of course, again, I'm not talking like this. I'm talking like this in my head, and what's coming out is me being like, I totally understand. Unfortunately, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

I am never going to go full Karen on them, not even when they're threatening my credit score. But that being said, I was like, absolutely not. This is your problem as a bank with your terrible user interface, you're terrible customer service.

This did not need to happen. I called you guys about 50 times, and this could have been worked out. I'm not taking the hit on my credit report.

So I didn't even really have to threaten them that I was going to file another complaint, but I was like, listen, I will, unfortunately, not be able to close the original complaint until this part is done because you actually have to confirm with the CFPB that you've closed your complaint, that the issue has been resolved, and that they can basically back off, essentially. So she was like, let me just go ahead and talk to my colleague. I'll call you back.

Two days later, she calls me back and she's like, we've actually decided, after reviewing your case, that we're going to go ahead and consider this our fault. We're going to go ahead and call the credit reporting bureaus, and we're going to get your score fixed. We're going to remove those late payments from your report, and that way this will be all taken care of.

So lo and behold, they did just that, and then and only then, did I consider the issue actually resolved. And of course, ever since then it's been pretty seamless. Obviously, I check it obsessively the days after I paid to make sure that the money has actually been deducted from my account and that the payment has been processed successfully, et cetera, et cetera.

At the end of the day, aside from being scared [BLEEP] for a while with all those threatening letters and my credit report and all of that stuff, the consequences weren't terrible, right? Many people have many way worse outcomes. And I'm not saying that something like the CFPB could help everyone in all of those situations.

However, I will say that the experience of trying to address this problem myself with the bank versus the experience that I had as soon as I filed that complaint-- and again, we're talking a matter of literally days that people were actively involved investigating my complaint, and I was seeing the results on my own end. Night and day, completely night and day experiences, and if I had not gotten the CFPB involved, at minimum, I would probably still have a messed up credit report. I may not have even been able to figure out what was going on, and I would have had to drive to Greenwich, Connecticut to go make a payment on my mortgage or something.

So all of that is to say, learn about the CFPB because it is something that maybe, hopefully, luckily, you'll never need in your life. But if you do need it, it is a truly amazing resource. And we pay taxes to the government, and the government is there to protect us and to help us and to give us resources and tools.

And in the best case scenario, that's what they do. And although our financial regulation is woefully insufficient, in some ways it does work, and this is one of those ways. And so more people should really be taking advantage of it because I did know about the CFPB.

I was aware of it. I knew how it functioned, but in the moment, in my panic, it didn't even really occur to me to do that. And I'm me.

I talk about this stuff 24 hours a day. So all of that is to say, keep this in mind. And when you're dealing with problems like this, obviously, be kind of customer service.

This isn't their fault. Document the hell out of everything. Be patient but persistent.

And remember that, at the end of the day, as a customer, as a consumer, as a taxpayer you have rights, and you deserve to be protected. And it is absolutely not Karen behavior to advocate for yourself in a considerate and patient way. So that is my story time.

I hope it was helpful. Again, linking you guys to the CFPB down below. My experience was a 10 out of 10, no notes.

Could not have been easier, could not have been more intuitive. And it really worked [BLEEP] out so, so well. So maybe go try it on your own.

And anyway, that's it for today, guys. So thank you for watching, and don't forget to hit the Subscribe and join. Buttons, and to come back every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday for new and awesome videos.