The CFPB’s Office of Service Member Affairs was established under Section 1013(e) of the Dodd-Frank Act to develop and implement initiatives for servicemembers and their families to “educate and empower servicemembers and their families to make better informed decisions regarding consumer financial products and services” and to coordinate with the CFPB and federal and state agencies regarding consumer protection measures relating to consumer financial products and services offered to and used by servicemembers and their families. On Tuesday, September 6, 2011, the Office of Servicemember Affairs issued a Request for Information regarding appropriate financial products and services aimed at servicemembers (76 FR 54998). Stating that military families face unique financial challenges, Holly Petraeus, Assistant Director of the Office of Servicemember Affairs, believes the office needs to identify those products and services that can assist the servicemembers’ particular needs.  

Specifically, the Request for Information “seeks information on consumer financial products and services that are currently being offered to or used by servicemembers and their families.” According to the Request for Information, the information provided will be used to create a knowledge base of consumer financial products used by servicemembers and their families in order to monitor consumer complaints and develop education and outreach initiatives and other consumer protection measures. Specifically, the Request for Information seeks comments on the following questions:  

  1. What consumer financial products and services are currently offered to or utilized by servicemembers and their families?
  2. What consumer financial products and services are tailored to the unique financial needs of servicemembers and their families or are marketed specifically to servicemembers and their families? This includes (a) information on products and services designed to address deployments, permanent change-of-station moves, overseas assignments, relocations and similar circumstances; (b) short-term lending products tailored to servicemembers and their families; and (c) products and services that are comparable to the Department of Defense Savings Deposit Program.
  3. What financial education opportunities are offered to servicemembers and their families, both in person and online?
  4. What programs, policies, accommodations or benefits to financial service providers currently are currently provided that exceed those required by the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act or comparable state law?
  5. What unique assistance is currently provided by financial service providers to servicemembers and their families who are distressed homeowners, including specific mortgage modifications; accommodations for servicemembers with permanent change-of-station orders; and assistance for wounded, ill or injured servicemembers, or surviving spouses of deceased servicemembers?
  6. What marketing and communication strategies are currently used to inform servicemembers and their families of the specific products and services, accommodations, and educational opportunities, and which tend to be most effective?  

Written comments to the Request for Information are due by September 20, 2011.