SACRAMENTO, Calif. — After a nationwide search, the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI) announced today it has hired Christina Tetreault to lead the new Office of Financial Technology and Innovation, which will provide a national model for fostering responsible innovation by offering early guidance to entrepreneurs developing financial products and services in California.
The announcement finalizes hiring for the most critical positions needed to stand up major offices and divisions to carry out the California Consumer Financial Protection Law (CCFPL), which took effect Jan. 1. In the next few months, Tetreault will work to establish regular ‘office hours’ for fintech innovators and stakeholders and plans to host listening sessions to gather feedback on how the San Francisco-based office can provide support and guidance to emerging businesses that will spur job creation and safeguard consumers.
Earlier this year, the DFPI announced the hiring of Suzanne Martindale, a veteran consumer advocate and key architect of the new law, to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Division. The new division will be responsible for regulating previously unregulated financial services providers and debt collectors and establishing a market monitoring and research arm to keep up with industry trends. The division will also conduct targeted outreach to underserved communities throughout the state.
The Department this month also announced the hiring of Brian Gould to lead the newly created Office of the Ombuds, which will provide an impartial review of complaints and resolutions with a goal to improve and streamline department operations.
“We are creating a national model in California that will better protect consumers, help innovators and entrepreneurs understand our expectations, and support the creation of responsible financial products,” said DFPI Commissioner Manuel P. Alvarez. “The leadership and expertise each of these individuals brings will help us execute the ambitious responsibilities we have under the new law.”
Tetreault joins the DFPI after most recently serving as Manager of Financial Policy for Consumer Reports. An attorney with expertise in emerging financial technologies and financial data use, her expertise will play a critical role in the creation of this office.
Martindale most recently served as Senior Policy Counsel and Western States Legislative Manager at Consumer Reports, where she worked for more than a decade on state and federal policy regarding banking and consumer credit. She is a lecturer in Student Loan Law at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law, and was a pro bono attorney at the East Bay Community Law Center’s Consumer Justice Clinic from 2015 to 2018.
Gould has a record in strategic planning and launching new programs within state government, most recently in the Office of State Treasurer, where he worked with stakeholders from across the state to institute the CalSavers program.
A priority of Gov. Gavin Newsom, the Consumer Financial Protection Law has given the department broad new enforcement and oversight powers, and additional resources to foster financial technology innovation, reach vulnerable populations, and conduct independent investigations into complaints against the DFPI.
The DFPI licenses and regulates state-chartered banks and credit unions, commodities and investment advisers, money transmitters, mortgage servicers, the offer and sale of securities and franchises, broker-dealers, nonbank installment lenders, payday lenders, student-lending servicers, escrow companies, Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program administrators, debt collectors, rent-to-own contractors, credit repair companies, consumer credit reporting agencies, debt-relief companies, and more.
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Ask Gareth Shaw: ‘I’m scared I’ll get rejected for credit card because of mistakes I made in the past’
Answer: Well done to you for getting back on your financial feet. Climbing your way out of debt is a marathon – it takes sacrifices and planning, so you’ve taken some really important steps in your financial journey.
The good news is that the negative information – the records of missed payments, defaults and even county court judgments – won’t stay on your credit report forever. Details of your late payments can be viewed for six years after they were settled. Searches and rejections of credit typically disappear after 12 months. So this dark cloud won’t hang over you forever.
Before we talk about applying for credit again, there are steps you can take to improve your credit health. Firstly, you should review your credit reports and make sure there are no errors that could be holding your score back. You can get your credit report for free from each of the three credit reference agencies – TransUnion, Equifax and Experian – and can ask them to investigate errors. Lenders and credit reference agencies have 28 days to respond to disputes.
Registering to vote by getting on the electoral roll can boost your credit score, while you may even be able to add the record of your monthly rent payments to your credit score by asking your landlord to report rental payments to firms like The Rental Exchange, CreditLadder or Canopy.
Experian has launched a new tool that allows you to share information about your banking habits and subscriptions – information which is not traditionally factored into your credit score – in order to increase your score. That means paying your council tax or even paying for Netflix and Amazon Prime could give your score a boost.
If you still want a credit card, your choice is likely to be limited to a particular set of cards designed for people with poor or ‘thin’ credit histories. These are known as ‘credit-builder’ cards, or sometimes ‘bad credit’ cards.
These cards have higher interest rates compared to the most competitive products in the market, to reflect the risk that a lender is taking in by providing credit to someone with a history of repayment problems. You can expect to find an APR of around 29 per cent. They also have lower limits, so when you apply, don’t be surprised to find that the lender will initially only give you £250 to £500.
However, these cards can be used to demonstrate that you are a responsible borrower, can repay on time and stay within your credit limit.
Here’s the golden rule – avoid borrowing money on these credit cards. Purchases tend to be interest-free for 55 days, after which you’ll be charged a considerable amount of interest. So limit the use of these cards, and when you do use them, try to pay them off in full. If you don’t pay on time, you will lose any promotional offer, be hit with a fee and your provider will report your missed payment to the credit reference agencies, reversing any good work you might have done. Set up a direct debit to ensure that your minimum payments are met in advance of the credit card payment date.
When you apply, use an eligibility checker first. This will ask for some basic information and carry out a ‘soft search’ on your credit file, returning a list of cards and the probability of your application being successful. That would be a helpful guide to find a card that is likely to accept you.
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