The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) offers an online database where consumers can search for complaints against credit card companies. This new database can be searched via the name of the credit card company, type of complaint, or by a customer’s zip code. Having their dirty laundry aired out for all to see does not make the banking institutions very happy and the banks are claiming this data can be misleading and only represents a small fraction of the credit card accounts currently issued.
What Does This Database Reveal?
Even though banks contend the information found in this database is not being verified for accuracy, the information does show what type of complaint was filed, against who, and what was the outcome of the complaint. Did the bank resolve it in a timely manner – within 60 days – and was there any monetary relief awarded to the consumer.
When the CFPB receives a complaint from a consumer, it verifies this information with the credit card company and with the person who filed the complaint. The agency also checks that it has jurisdiction over the institution in question. Once this has been verified, it will then post this information to this online database.
Have There Been Complaints Since the Online Database Went Live?
Since the CFPB began receiving complaints on July 21, 2011, it has received almost 17,000 credit card complaints, 19,000 mortgage complaints, 6,500 bank products and services complaints, and over 1,000 student loan complaints. The majority of credit card complaints have to do with billing disputes. The second highest source of complaints comes from consumers not being able to challenge inaccuracies on their billing statements.
What Does This Database Mean for Consumers
No longer will consumer complaints only be known to the individual banks and to those willing to pursue this information through the Freedom of Information Act. Instead, this data-rich resource will be available to everyone thus improving the “transparency” and “efficiency” of the credit card market to further empower the American consumer.
This database will not include personal information such as a consumer’s name, credit card number, or mailing address. It will simply name the institution of which the complaint has been made, what was the complaint, and how it was resolved.
What Happens When a Consumer Files a Complaint?
When a consumer files a complaint, Consumer Response intake specialists review each one for completeness, jurisdiction, and non-duplication. Complaints that meet these criteria are then forwarded to the appropriate company (bank or nonbank) for review and resolution. Companies are given 15 days to provide a substantive response to each consumer complaint and are expected to resolve and close all but the most complicated complaints within 60 days.
Consumer Response prioritizes for investigation certain complaints based on a handful of risk-based criteria including the failure of a company to respond in a timely manner and those in which the consumer disputes the company-provided resolution. When potential legal violations are detected, Consumer Response works closely with other parts of the Bureau including the offices of Supervision, Enforcement, and Fair Lending to ensure potential violations are dealt with appropriately.
Throughout this process, consumers have the ability to log into the CFPB’s website to check the status of their complaint (and, when appropriate, dispute the resolution provided by the financial institution).
How is This Database Working Out?
The Consumer Complaint Database has collected over 579,000 complaints since its inception, on a range of consumer financial products and services. Since they started accepting complaints in July 2011, they’ve helped consumers connect with financial companies to understand issues with their mortgages, fix errors on their credit reports, stop unlawful calls from debt collectors, and get direct responses about problems with their credit cards, bank accounts, private student loans, and more. They analyze the data to identify trends and problems in the marketplace, enforcing federal consumer financial laws, and writing rules and regulations. They publish reports on complaints and share information with state and federal agencies.
Tell Them What You Think
The CFPB is encouraging consumers to give them feedback on what they think of this new database and would like comments and suggestions on making the functionality better. If you have had a chance to look it over, you can fill out a comment form and offer your suggestions.