Kudos to the CFPB on public complaint proposal

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Today the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) proposed a plan to give consumers who submit complaints to CFPB the option to publicly share their accounts of what happened. The public will have until Sept. 22 to comment on the policy.

Consumer Action applauds the CFPB for its proposed policy, which would empower consumers to have a real impact on improving financial products and services based on their own experiences. Consumer Action has long held that publishing consumer narratives about CFPB complaints would provide important context for the complaint, help the public detect specific trends in the market, aid consumer decision-making and drive improved consumer service.

Ruth Susswein of Consumer Action’s DC Office serves as chair of Americans for Financial Reform’s CFPB Complaint Process committee. The committee advocated for an open, searchable database that would include contextual details of individual consumer complaints, or narratives. Despite strong opposition by banks, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) in 2012 opened its complaint database to the public but held off on the decision to publish detailed narratives. The Bureau’s move today is a well thought out and appropriate response that would put the decision to share narratives squarely in the hands of individual complainants.

“Today the CFPB made a bold move by proposing to include actual complaint details in its public complaint database. The proposal empowers consumers and gives them a road map to companies that deserve their business,” Susswein said. “The proposed policy would head off problems for other consumers by warning them about companies with a pattern of not resolving customer complaints. This will go a long way in helping consumers protect themselves.”

The CFPB’s proposed policy recognizes the importance of protecting consumers’ private information, ensuring informed consent by any consumer who participates, and providing companies with an opportunity to respond.

Consumer Action empowers low- and moderate-income and limited-English-speaking consumers nationwide to financially prosper through education and advocacy.