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The new federal agency charged with enforcing consumer finance laws is emerging as an ambitious sheriff, taking on companies for deceptive fees and marketing and unmoved by protests that its tactics go too far.

In the 14 months it has existed, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has launched dozens of enforcement probes and issued more than 100 subpoenas demanding data, testimony and marketing materials -- sometimes amounting to millions of pages -- from companies that include credit card lenders, for-profit colleges and mortgage servicers.

More than two dozen interviews with agency officials and industry executives offered sweeping insight into the new agency's behind-the-scenes efforts, which have taken the financial industry off guard and have been far more aggressive than previously known.

The number of subpoenas and probes was confirmed by agency, industry and trade group officials who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the subpoenas bar both sides from discussing them.

The bureau's actions have many banks, payday lenders and credit card companies racing to adjust. They're tightening their record-keeping and budgeting for defense lawyers, according to attorneys and trade group executives who work with them. The companies themselves are reluctant to discuss the bureau because they don't want to be seen as criticizing a regulator that is still choosing its battles.


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