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CFPB: Publish more consumer gripes

By Allison Ross ·
Thursday, July 17, 2014
Posted: 6 am ET

© Pekic/Shutterstock.comIn a move that could create further tension with banks but generate popularity with consumers wanting to vent, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is proposing publishing more information on consumer complaints against banks.

In particular, the CFPB wants to give customers the ability to publicly publish narratives of their experiences with a financial company. It says this move would help detect trends and "provide important context to the complaint."

It also argues the narratives could help customers make decisions on which banks to use and impel companies to provide better customer service.

The CFPB already publishes anonymous complaint summary data that it receives, but this proposal would expand what is publicly published about a complaint.

So far, it's not going over well with bankers and other industry folks.

"Publishing narratives of every unverified complaint will give only the illusion of disclosure," Richard Hunt, president and CEO of the Consumer Bankers Association, said in a statement today. "Banks have an obligation to their customers to maintain the confidentiality of their information, making it virtually impossible for a bank to offer a complete response to these narratives."

Hunt says it's the CFPB's job to sift through complaints to determine which are founded or unfounded.

"Instead, they want to let others figure it out from one-sided and unverified narrative information," Hunt said. "This action will ultimately add to consumer confusion, harm industry reputations and undermine any hope the CFPB may have to be viewed as a fair and honest broker."

The CFPB's proposal has a 30-day comment period. For those worried about personal information, the CFPB's proposal notes that "only those narratives for which opt-in consumer consent had been obtained and a robust personal information scrubbing standard and methodology applied would be subject to disclosure."

The CFPB says it has handled more than 400,000 consumer complaints -- on topics such as credit cards, mortgages, consumer loans, debt collection and bank accounts -- since the bureau was founded in July 2011.

What do you think of the CFPB's proposal?

For more on what the CFPB has been up to, check out Bankrate's blog post about the bureau fining a payday lender $10 million for illegal debt collection practices.

Follow me on twitter: @allisonsross.

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