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U.S. agency warns consumers about bitcoin risks

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said Monday that it will begin fielding complaints from people who rely on products such as bitcoin and online exchanges for such currencies.
By JOSH BOAK, AP Economics Writer Published: August 12, 2014
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Agency warns users off bitcoin

Federal regulators are warning consumers about the risks of using virtual currencies such as bitcoin.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said Monday that it will begin fielding complaints from people who rely on products such as bitcoin and online exchanges for such currencies.

In issuing an advisory warning, the agency noted that the currencies are not backed by the government, have volatile exchange rates and are targeted by hackers and scammers. And bitcoin-based deposits are not federally insured.

“Consumers are stepping into the Wild West,” CFPB Director Richard Cordray said in a statement.

Still, Cordray acknowledged that virtual currencies “may have potential benefits,” noting that they facilitate online transactions by making it easier to process payments.

The Securities and Exchange Commission issued an investor alert about Ponzi schemes involving virtual currencies.

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