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Watchdog group probes U of M, TCF relationship

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A new federal consumer watchdog group is looking into the University of Minnesota's relationship with TCF Bank as part of a widespread inquiry into all financial products being marketed to college students around the country.

The Star Tribune reports more than 40,000 U of M students carry a "U Card," sponsored by TCF bank, that's used as a photo ID and provides access to dorms, computer labs, libraries and laundry rooms. The card can also be linked to a free TCF checking account and doubles as a debit or ATM card.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says students may not always be shopping for for the best deal and inherently trust the school-endorsed product.

The newspaper reports TCF Bank gets a royalty payment based on the number of active checking accounts, which totaled about 36,331 accounts in May. TCF collects about $1 million a year in royalty payments.

The relations ship also includes TCF Financial Corp. paying $35 million to secure the naming rights of TCF Bank Stadium in 2005.

The consumer bureau was created in 2010 to help protect Americans from financial scams, Reuters reports. The agency also enforces a 2009 law that cracked down on the way firms market products on college campuses and made agreements between credit card companies and schools public.

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