The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will continue to publish a database of consumer complaints, but it will make several key changes to increase transparency and provide full context for consumers, the agency announced on Sept. 18. Among these changes are several advocated by the American Bankers Association.
For example, the bureau said it will highlight consumers’ ability to contact their financial provider for answers before filing a report, which ABA has urged, and it said it will more prominently display disclosures making it clear that complaints are unverified and that the database is not a statistical sample of consumers’ marketplace experience, which in part addresses ABA’s concerns that the reports in the database lack sufficient context and key data. The CFPB also said it will provide common answers and resources to help consumers before they submit complaints, which ABA had said the bureau was well positioned to do.
“Consumer feedback is important to all businesses, but only if that feedback is trustworthy and reliable. In that spirit, we appreciate the CFPB’s efforts to provide greater context for the information in its Consumer Complaint Database,” said ABA EVP Virginia O’Neill. “ABA has long expressed concern that the publication of unverified consumer complaints may mislead consumers by introducing unreliable information into the market.”
The bureau also said it would explore how it can expand a company’s ability to respond publicly to individual complaints and how it can better contextualize the complaint data. However, the bureau plans to continue publishing all previously disclosed fields, including consumer narratives, despite ABA’s strongly expressed concerns about privacy implications and the CFPB’s statutory authority to publish individualized complaint data.