When the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau began publishing consumers’ complaints against financial services companies several years ago, many of those companies and other industry observers took issue with the fact that the complaints were, in many cases, unverified and unproven.
But that could be about to change, thanks to a new bill that Congress is set to consider soon.
The new bill, entitled the CFPB Data Accountability Act, was introduced into the House of Representatives last week by Rep. Matt Salmon, R-AZ, who said that the CFPB’s database, in its current format, is confusing to consumers and is not as usable as it can be.
“Under current law, the CFPB launched a Consumer Complaint Database that serves as a mechanism to inform the consumer about potentially troublesome institutions,” Salmon said in a statement.
“We owe it to the American people to make this information as accurate and as clear as possible,” Salmon continued.
“Unfortunately, the current database is disorganized and does little to provide the American people with important information to inform their decision-making,” Salmon said.
“My bill would improve the current database by requiring the CFPB to verify the facts of each complaint and present this information in an aggregated format so that consumers have better access to CFPB-collected data and can make better decisions about their financial futures,” Salmon added
If enacted, the bill would require the CFPB to “verify and put into context” the consumer complaints it receives and presents to the public.
“By verifying these complaints with evidence of actual wrongdoing, Americans will have a greater understanding of various financial products and be better informed of any violations committed by these institutions,” Salmons office stated.
Specifically, per the legislation text, Salmon’s bill would require the CFPB to “verify any consumer complaint information…where the complaint alleges a violation of a law, regulation, or contractual agreement between a consumer and a covered person who offered or provided the consumer financial product or service to the consumer.”
Additionally, the CFPB Data Accountability Act would require the CFPB to present the complaint data in an aggregated format and only after the CFPB ensure that “proprietary, personal, or confidential consumer information” is not made public.
Salmon’s bill would also require the CFPB to quantify and clarify the nature and number of consumer complaints about a particular consumer financial product or service by accompanying said complaints with the total number of consumers that are using that particular consumer financial product or service.
Salmon’s bill is currently set for review by the House Financial Services Committee. If it passes out of committee, it will proceed to the full House for review.