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CFPB analyst: We use consumer complaint database as insider guide for exams

Analyzes complaints for potential legal violations

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s consumer complaint database has been a source of controversy since its inception, as many industry participants took issue with the fact that the complaints were made public, despite potentially being unverified and unproven.

At this very moment, Republicans in Washington are working to eliminate the CFPB’s complaint database, and perhaps kill off the CFPB entirely.

And based on what one CFPB analyst said Wednesday, you can see why the complaint database is the bane of the financial industry’s existence.

Speaking during the “Preparing for Servicing Exams” session at the Mortgage Bankers Association’s National Mortgage Servicing Conference, being held currently in Dallas, CFPB Senior Analyst Ann Thompson said that the CFPB uses the complaint database as a guide for determining whether to pursue an exam against a particular company.

Given the nature of the session and the fact that there was a CFPB analyst speaking, much of the session focused on CFPB compliance exams. It's ironic that the session took place at the exact same time as HousingWire reported on an effort to abolish the CFPB led by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.

So while the standing-room only crowd heard from Thompson and the other panelists about how to prepare for a CFPB exam, Republicans on Capitol Hill were maneuvering to make the entire session a moot point.

And you can see why, considering the complex nature of the information that mortgage servicers are required to maintain for their servicing customers, any small piece of which could trigger a CFPB exam.

Another trigger, as Thompson said, is the CFPB’s complaint database, and for the time being, the CFPB plans to continue operating in the same form moving forward. And that means that for now, the complaint database is still standing.

“We review the number and content of consumer complaints, and we weight the complaints based on potential violations of law,” Thompson told the crowded room.

Thompson, who works in the CFPB’s Office of Supervision Policy, said that mortgages and mortgage servicing remain a “high priority” for the CFPB.

“We take complaints to companies seriously,” Thompson said, referencing how companies deal with complaints that companies receive directly, rather than complaints sent to the CFPB. “How companies handle consumer complaints is important.”

Thompson did compliment a “number of servicers” that have improved how they deal with complaints internally, but added that the CFPB also is paying close attention to how companies deal with their service providers and vendors.

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