WASHINGTON — The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said Thursday it will begin taking tips from whistleblowers about violations of federal consumer financial laws.
The bureau launched a toll-free hotline and dedicated email for whistleblower tips, and plans to launch an online tips portal on its website early next year.
"We are providing whistleblowers and other knowledgeable sources with a direct line of communication to the CFPB," Rich Cordray, the bureau's assistant director of enforcement, said in a press release. "Their tips will help inform Bureau strategy, investigations, and enforcement. And they will help us fulfill our commitment to consumers."
The Dodd-Frank Act provides certain protections from retaliation for employees of companies that provide consumer financial products or services who share information about potential violations. The bureau is seeking information about potential violations from current or former employees, contractors, vendors and competitors.
Under the law, protected employees may not be terminated or discriminated against for providing information about violations of consumer financial laws to their employer or local, state or federal officials; testifying about a potential violation; filing any lawsuit under a federal consumer financial law; or refusing to participate in violations of the law, according to the press release.
Relief is available for employees who suffer discrimination or termination for blowing the whistle, but the statute also provides penalties for complaints that are frivolous or brought in bad faith, the bureau said in a bulletin Thursday.
People who submit tips may choose to remain anonymous, or may request confidentiality even after they have provided their name and contact information to CFPB.
Providing a name and contact information could make it easier to investigate tips and provide remediation, Kent Markus, the CFPB's assistant director of enforcement, wrote on the bureau's blog Thursday.
"Still, we understand that it may be frightening to come forward with information about possible legal violations, especially if it is about your own employer," Markus said. "To the extent consistent with law enforcement needs, the bureau will not disclose your identifying information and will maintain your confidentiality as permitted by federal laws."
The bureau was careful to say that whistleblower information and law enforcement tips are separate from consumer complaints, which is available for individuals who have personally encountered problems with consumer financial products or services.
Tips can be sent to email@example.com, or through the toll-free hotline at (855) 695-7974.