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Friday, March 20, 2015

CFPB to Publicize Consumer Stories in Complaint Database

The CFPB finalized its plans to add consumers’ narratives to the publicly available material in its consumer complaint database. ABA vigorously opposed this development, arguing that it would exceed the bureau’s statutory mandate and impose excessive risks on banks and customers. ABA President and CEO Frank Keating said:

While the banking industry is committed to helping consumers make informed and responsible financial decisions, public disclosure of unverified consumer complaint narratives doesn’t advance that goal and raises significant consumer privacy issues. This risks turning the CFPB database into a questionable — even misleading — resource and risks tarnishing the reputation of individual companies and the banking industry as a whole without substantiation.

The bureau’s plan largely resembles the one proposed last summer. Complainants must opt in to have their stories published and may opt out at any time, and personally identifiable information would be hidden in both the customer narrative and company response.

A company subject to a complaint would be given an opportunity to post one of nine optional structured responses that would appear next to a customer’s story. ABA was skeptical that this would provide appropriate balance and be useful to consumers. “Checking a standardized box will not provide valuable information to consumers, and banks will not choose to engage in a public disagreement with their customers,” Keating said.

The bureau also issued a request for comments on ways to incorporate positive feedback about companies independent from the complaint database. Comments are due 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.

Read more.
Read the request for comment.

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