CFPB Publishes More Than 7,700 Detailed Financial Grievances To Public-Facing Database

Sharing your nightmare experience with a financial institution, product or service could help another consumer avoid such dastardly situations. And from the looks of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s new public-facing Consumer Complaint Database, people have a lot to share.

Just three months after the CFPB finalized a policy giving consumers the opportunity to share details about their issues with financial companies for public consumption, the Bureau announced it has posted more than 7,700 complaints for others to peruse.

The CFPB accepts complaints on many consumer financial products, including credit cards, mortgages, bank accounts, private student loans, vehicle and other consumer loans, credit reporting, money transfers, debt collection and payday loans.

The newly added first-hand consumer narratives are searchable and contain company responses, if available.

“Publishing these consumer stories today is a historic milestone that we believe will lead to better outcomes for everyone,” Richard Cordray, director of the CFPB, said in a statement.

While the CFPB’s previous complaint process allowed consumers to fill out a detailed description of their complaint, that information is kept private.

Now, however, those grievances are posted for the whole world to see, as long as the complainant opts to make it public.

Here's snippet of the consumer narrative database.

Here’s snippet of the consumer narrative database.

Under the policy, the CFPB doesn’t publish the complaint narrative unless the consumer provides informed consent. This means that when consumers submit a complaint through consumerfinance.gov, they would have to affirmatively check a consent box to give the Bureau permission to publish their narrative. Consumers would also be able to withdraw their consent to publish the narrative at any time.

Of course, any complaints shared on the public-facing side of things go through specific safeguards to ensure consumers’ sensitive information isn’t put at risk. Before the narrative is published, the Bureau will take steps to remove personal information from the complaint including names, phone numbers, Social Security numbers and other identifiers.

By furnishing these first-person narratives, consumers can provide context to the issue and help the public detect specific trends in the market, while also aiding consumer decision-making and driving improved customer service, the CFPB says.

Work to create the public-facing database began back in December 2014 when the Bureau first proposed allowing consumers to air their grievances publicly.

In addition to making consumer narratives publicly available on Thursday, the CFPB also issued a request for information [PDF] seeking public input on ways to make such data more useful to the public.

Specifically, the Bureau is looking for ideas to enable the public to more easily understand information in the database and make comparisons of the complaints by normalizing, or adding additional context to, the complaint data.

Individuals wanting to provide feedback on the system can do so within 60 days.

CFPB Publishes Over 7,700 Consumer Complaint Narratives About Financial Companies [Consumer Financial Protection Bureau]