…Thanks to its recently departed head, Mick Mulvaney. As a congressman, Mulvaney railed against the bureau’s very existence, and vowed as its appointed leader to soften its ostensibly anti-business edge.

But the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is still around — for now — despite Mulvaney’s costly, ill-fated crusade to rename it. That’s good news for Americans victimized by “unfair, deceptive, or abusive practices” by consumer finance companies.

As I write in this guide to filing a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, we’ve all had at least one nightmarish consumer finance experience. I envisioned the guide as a one-stop shop for consumers who aren’t sure whether those experiences justify the time needed to submit a formal CFPB complaint — or concerned, given that the bureau is run by political appointees, about how their complaints will be received.

My take: Don’t worry.

Before submitting a complaint, try to exhaust all reasonable options with your antagonist. It’s often possible to reach a resolution without involving a third party.

If not, check the CFPB’s Consumer Complaint Database to determine whether the company you’re planning to report already has a pattern of complaints in its file. This pattern, if it exists, may help guide your own complaint.

Finally, ascertain whether your complaint falls within the CFPB’s purview. The CFPB covers products and sub-products in nine realms:

  • Debt collection
  • Credit reporting and repair
  • Mortgage products
  • Credit and prepaid cards
  • Consumer deposit accounts
  • Vehicle loans and leases
  • Student loans
  • Payday, title, and personal loans
  • Money transfer and other money services

When you’re ready, use this link to draft and submit your complaint. If you have questions, reach out to the CFPB’s multi-lingual call line at (855) 411-2372 — or just read my guide again.

Happy complaining.