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Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s New Policy to Include Narrative Details From Consumers Will Enhance Its Complaint Database

Statement of Christine Hines, Consumer and Civil Justice Counsel, Public Citizen’s Congress Watch Division

Public Citizen applauds the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) for adding consumer narratives to its online complaint database. Now, consumers will be able to report to the public firsthand their experiences with financial services and products, allowing others to read the shared details.

This follows in the tradition of a number of other government agencies, such as the Consumer Product Safety Commission, that operate public complaint databases to help people report on and research product risks.

Consumer narratives will add to the CFPB’s already robust complaint database, which has handled more than half a million complaints. Firsthand experiences will provide a fuller picture of incidents in the marketplace and help others make more informed decisions when evaluating financial services, including services such as mortgages, auto loans and other lending products.

Consumers’ own words also will help to uncover patterns of potentially predatory conduct in financial services, such as unlawful debt collection practices. The quicker the risks to the public interest are exposed, the less likely it is that more members of the public will be harmed by the unfair or abusive practices. We expect that under its policy, the bureau will operate the complaint database while safeguarding consumers’ personal information.