CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION BUREAU – The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recently launched a public Consumer Complaint Database on credit cards.
The CFPB also released a snapshot of the complaints it has received on credit cards, mortgages, private student loans, and bank products through June 1, including six stories of success.
“Each and every time we hear from American consumers about their troublesome transactions with financial products, it gives us important insight,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray.
“The information helps us and it should be available to help others too. By making our data publicly available, initially in the area of credit cards, we hope to improve the transparency and efficiency of this essential consumer market,” he added.
The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which created the CFPB, gave the CFPB authority to make public information about the markets for consumer financial products and services.
In December, the CFPB asked the public to comment on a proposed policy of making some credit card complaint data publicly available. After considering those comments, the CFPB has finalized its policy for disclosing some of the data through its Consumer Complaint Database.
The Consumer Complaint Database allows the public to know what is being complained about and why. It contains certain individual-level field data collected by the CFPB, including the type of complaint, the date of submission, the consumer’s zip code, and the company that the complaint concerns.
The database also includes information about the actions taken on a complaint – whether the company’s response was timely, how the company responded, and whether the consumer disputed the company’s response. The database does not include confidential information about a consumer’s identity.
How creditors can respond
A company may respond to a complaint in four ways: a complaint could be closed with monetary relief, without monetary relief, with an explanation, or the company could simply close it.
Closing a complaint with non-monetary relief could include things like changing account terms, correcting submissions to a credit bureau, or coming up with a foreclosure alternative that doesn’t have direct monetary value to the consumer.
Closing a complaint with explanation means the company provides an explanation to the consumer that substantively meets the consumer’s desired resolution or explains why no further action will be taken. When a complaint is simply closed by the company that means the company is closing it without relief or explanation.
Consumer Response prioritizes for review and investigation complaints in which the consumer disputes the response or where companies fail to provide a timely response.
State of the art complaint center
Consistent with the CFPB’s goal to be a 21st Century agency, the Consumer Complaint Database is web-based and user friendly.
Features of its functionality include the ability to: filter data based on specific search criteria; aggregate data in various ways, such as by complaint type, issuer, location, date, or any combination of available variables; and download data.
The database will be populated by credit card complaints received by the CFPB on and after June 1, 2012.
Complaints are only uploaded after the company verifies that it has been correctly identified by the complainant. That may be done within days or a company may take the full 15 days that the CFPB allows.
As it is a live database that updates daily, the public will see more information in the database as more complaints are received. Additional retroactive data will be added when the “beta” tag is removed by the end of this year.
For more information on how CFPB has helped credit card and other consumers and to get a look at some “Stories of Success” see: “Consumer Financial Protection Bureau launches Consumer Complaint Database” which also includes a preliminary accounting of mortgage complaints.