CFPB Ups Abilities for Consumers to Share Financial Complaints

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is moving forward with its consumer complaint database, now finalizing a rule giving consumers the ability to opt-in to share complaint accounts, or narratives, in the agency’s public complaint portal.

Consumers have been able to submit their complaints about financial companies publicly since the database initially launched in 2012, including mortgage complaints and reverse mortgage complaints. But now the CFPB is laying rules for consumers to be able to share their personal stories to the public-facing portal as well. 

“Consumer narratives shed light on the full consumer perspective behind a complaint,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “Narratives humanize the problems consumers face in the marketplace. Today’s policy will serve to empower consumers by helping them make informed decisions and helping track trends in the consumer financial market.”

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The agency is defining rules around the new complaint system, such as to ensure consumer anonymity, require consumer consent before narratives are published, and allow consumers to opt-out at any time. 

Existing procedures are in place and will remain. Currently, complaints are listed in the database only after the company responds to the complaint or after it has had the complaint for 15 days, whichever comes first, the CFPB notes. Under the new narrative rules, the agency will disclose the consumer narrative when the company provides its public-facing response, or after the company has had the complaint for 60 calendar days, whichever comes first.

Responses will only be published once a consumer has a confirmed relationship with the financial institution on which he or she is commenting, and will be screened to ensure they are not duplicates, among other criteria. 

Companies will be able to submit a response to the complaint from a series of options and they have 180 days after the consumer complaint is routed to them to select the optional, public response, the CFPB notes.

Written by Elizabeth Ecker

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