Nearly 8,000 consumers accounts of problems they are facing with financial companies are now live in a public-facing consumer complaint database with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in hopes to help both consumers and lenders.
Back in June 2012, the CFPB launched its Consumer Complaint Database for concerns over mortgages, bank accounts, credit cards, debt collection and more.
Complaints include basic, anonymous, individual-level information about the complaints received, including the date of submission, the consumer’s zip code, the relevant company, the product type, the issue the consumer is complaining about, and how the company handled the complaint.
Then in March 2015, the bureau created a new option for consumers to publicly share their stories when they submit complaints.
This new launch with include consumer narratives that have been scrubbed of personal information will be added to the complaint database on a daily basis.
Narratives provide a firsthand account of the consumer’s experience.
“The narratives can also help consumers to make more informed decisions, as well as encourage companies to improve the overall quality of their products and services and more vigorously compete over good customer service,” the CFPB said in its release.
The new feature was well received with more than half of consumers submitting complaints to the CFPB website opting in to share their accounts of what happened.
“The Bureau's work improves as we hear directly from consumers," said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. "Every complaint tells us what people are facing in the financial marketplace. Publishing these consumer stories today is a historic milestone that we believe will lead to better outcomes for everyone."
The new database does come with a set of safety precautions for both lenders and borrowers. The consumer complaint data can be found here.
The policy includes safeguards for removing a consumer’s personal information, along with ensuring consent of any consumer who participates.
Under the policy, companies also have 180 days to select an optional public-facing response to be included in the public database. This is the first time these responses are included in the database.
Here are the basic rules on complaints and narratives.
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.
As of June 1, 2015, the Bureau has handled more than 627,000 complaints, with mortgages and debt collection being the most frequent topics.
With the new database, users can:
- Search for specific product names or features
- Highlight specific company practices and problems
- Break down information by state
The CFPB also issued a request for information seeking public input on ways to make the data more useful to the public.