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CFPB Publishes 7,700+ Consumer Complaint Narratives about FIs
Friday, June 26, 2015 6:40 AM

Yesterday, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau went live with an enhanced public-facing consumer complaint database. It includes for the first time more than 7,700 consumer accounts of problems they are facing with financial companies concerning mortgages, bank accounts, credit cards, debt collection, and more.

The CFPB also published a Request for Information seeking input on whether there are ways to enable the public to more easily understand and make comparisons of the complaint information.

As part of its responsibilities under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the CFPB began accepting complaints as soon as it opened its doors in July 2011. It currently accepts complaints on many consumer financial products, including credit cards; mortgages; bank accounts; private student loans; vehicle and other consumer loans; credit reporting; money transfers; debt collection; and payday loans.

As of June 1, 2015, the Bureau has handled more than 627,000 complaints, with mortgages and debt collection being the most frequent topics. Consumer narratives provide a firsthand account of the consumer’s experience. The CFPB Consumer Complaint Database is designed to allow users to explore the information, spotlight particular practices and problems, and gain valuable insights. Specifically, users can:

  • Search for specific product names or features: Users can now search consumer narratives for product names or features such as the brand name of a credit card or a mortgage feature.
  • Highlight specific company practices and problems: Users can search for terms in consumer accounts of what happened such as “lost paperwork,” “foreclosure scam,” or “robo-signing.”
  • Break down information by state: Users can sort complaints by state and zip code to spotlight local trends and information.

The CFPB consumer complaint narrative policy lays out the specific procedures and safeguards the Bureau has put in place to publish narratives in the database. The policy includes important safeguards for removing a consumer’s personal information and ensuring the informed consent of any consumer who participates. Under the CFPB policy, companies also have 180 days to select an optional public-facing response to be included in the public database. These company responses are now included in the database for the first time.

Complaints are listed in the database after the company responds to the complaint or after it has had the complaint for 15 days, whichever comes first. The CFPB will disclose the consumer narrative when the company provides its public-facing response, or after the company has had the complaint for 60 calendar days, whichever comes first.

Review the policy.

The Bureau is also issuing a Request for Information seeking public input on ways to make the data more useful to the public. Specifically, the Bureau is looking for ideas to enable the public to more easily understand information in the database and make comparisons of the complaints by normalizing, or adding additional context to, the complaint data.

Review the Request for Information.