6 steps toward compliance with CFPB guidelines

cfpb1Have you ever noticed the contrast between the slick, enticing copy of a credit card offer and the confusing, legalese-laden fine print of your monthly statement? It’s hard to believe they came from the same company.

If you’re frustrated by the gobbledygook, you aren’t alone. The federal government’s financial industry watchdog agency, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, is fed up, too. The CFPB has been urging financial services companies to provide the public with clear, accessible “consumer-friendly” information about their products and the terms of their agreements.

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Memorial Day Mappers' Morsels

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Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer in the USA. Many of our friends in other countries are also welcoming the change of seasons. At Information Mapping we like to celebrate the arrival of the warm weather by firing up the grill. We expect that many of you do too. That's why this week we're sharing a recipe from the Mappers' Morsels cookbook.

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Improving airline safety with better technical documentation

jettransportWhen you buy a new car it comes with a sleek little owner’s manual that fits into your glove box. With a new jet airliner, things aren’t that simple.  Every jetliner comes with a massive library of documentation covering every aspect of inspection, maintenance and repair of the plane’s systems. And “every aspect” is no exaggeration.

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Improve documentation to drive down healthcare costs

Improve-documentation-to-drive-down-healthcare-costsFor many people it’s a problem to read and understand the confusing instructions that come with some medication. Last year over 125,000 Americans died simply because they didn’t take their pills or follow doctors’ orders. On addition to all those deaths, thousands more experienced continuing ill health or required additional hospitalization. Healthcare professionals call this “patient noncompliance,” and it’s a very expensive problem. In 2012 it cost the public an estimated $289 billion.

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Stopping the disappearing act: government knowledge capture

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If you’re among those who think government isn’t working very efficiently nowadays, just wait until next year. As of 2014, more than half of our federal government’s civilian employees will be eligible for retirement. Considerably more than half of those eligible are expected to actually retire. Fully 30% of the government’s workforce will walk out the door.

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Are poor healthcare communications making you sick?

frustratedcustomer1Have you seen the ads that healthcare companies are airing on TV? They feature soothing music and heartwarming customer stories about the personal attention they’ve received from the company’s representatives. The message is pretty hard to miss: “We’re not just another huge, faceless corporation. We really care about you.”

Despite those tug-at-the-heartstrings ads, American consumers’ perception of the healthcare industry is largely negative. Most of us dread having to interact with our health plan providers. That’s because the industry suffers from serious communication problems.

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Prepared for the Worst: Energy Emergency Documentation Can Save the Day

energy emergencyWatching the confusion caused by the Super Bowl power outage reminded me that we all need to be prepared to deal with unexpected interruptions to our electrical service. I was reminded of this again this weekend, when my lights went out as a blizzard blanketed New England with over two feet of snow.

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3 Mistakes for Technical Communicators to Avoid

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2013 is well under way now, and it’s shaping up to be an exciting year for technical communicators. Judging by the constant buzz and the sheer volume of banter and bickering on the profession’s favorite discussion forums, this is a great time to be a writer. And the ever-growing amount of content that organizations need to capture and control offers a new Golden Age of opportunity for those with the skills and savvy.

But, as always, the pitfalls are still there. Here are three mistakes you'll want to avoid making during the coming months.

 

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The Big Payoff - Managing Financial Regulatory Documentation

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Did you follow the news stories from last week’s World Economic Forum? 2500 of the world’s top bankers and financial managers gathered in Davos, Switzerland, where they spent a lot of time discussing the challenges posed by increasing regulatory scrutiny. The big financial institutions are reluctantly bracing themselves to cope with more oversight.

I’m ambivalent about this. I hate the idea of being burdened with additional charges and fees, which is how some big financial services organizations will get consumers like me to pay their costs of compliance. But I like the other potential outcome, which is that the banks may be compelled to seek out ways to operate more efficiently.

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Plain Language and Information Mapping: Clarifying the Connection

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Interest in plain language is on the rise. Recent sessions of our Writing in Plain Language webinar have been very well attended, and not just by employees at federal agencies trying to implement the Plain Writing Act. Nowadays many attendees are from the private sector.

During the webinars, I’m often asked, “What’s the connection between Information Mapping and plain language?” It’s a good question, and my answer is, “They’re one and the same.”

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