WASHINGTON — Of the hundreds of thousands of words in the Dodd-Frank Act, none has caused as much consternation as the seven-letter one tucked into Title 10: abusive.

That's the new standard under which the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau can prohibit certain acts and practices. But what does it mean, and how is it different from practices that are unfair and deceptive, which are already banned? More than a year after the law's passage, bank lawyers and bureau officials still can't say for sure.

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