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June 19, 2012 

CFPB Public Credit Card Complaint Database Constitutes Modest Advance

Statement of Bartlett Naylor, Financial Policy Advocate, Public Citizen

Today, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) launched a public Consumer Complaint Database on credit cards. The CFPB also released a snapshot of the complaints it has received on credit cards, mortgages, private student loans and bank products through June 1, including six stories of success.

Some relief for credit card consumers arrived today in the shape of a new public database created by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a critical new agency created by Wall Street reform.

With this new database, consumers will be able to identify repeated problems with specific banks, including those that resulted in monetary relief. Consumers also will be able to discern the volume of complaints in certain basic categories. That can help consumers make informed choices.

We ask the agency to improve the database by adding more granular detail about actual abuse. The issues listed are generic, such as “billing dispute” or “late fee.” The public deserves detailed narratives that can guide other consumers in making sound financial decisions. Ideally, the CFPB will enhance the database to better empower consumers to help one another and steer the market to more general reform.

Industry concerns about reputational risks should be ignored. Disclosure has long proven a reliable disinfectant of market abuse.

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