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Will the Government Really Kill the CFPB Consumer Complaint Database?

By August 3, 2016 No Comments

In June, Arizona Representative Matt Salmon introduced the CFPB Data Accountability Act, a new bill to Congress that is intended to “amend the Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010 to provide additional requirements for the consumer complaint website of the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, and for other purposes.”

The proposed amendment, as written, could take some of the teeth out of the CFPB’s database by forcing the CFPB to:

  • aggregate consumer complaints to protect the consumer’s confidential information;
  • report the actual percentage of consumers who had a complaint about a particular product or service;
  • comply with all guidelines regarding quality, objectivity, utility and integrity of information handed down by the OMB; and
  • verify any consumer complaint information where the complaint alleges a violation of a law, regulation, or contractual agreement

If made part of the law, this amendment would likely see the CFPB’s very public consumer complaint database effectively shut down, as the Bureau could not possibly investigate and verify every complaint in its database. As of March 1, 2016, the CFPB had handled approximately 834,400 complaints, according to the Bureau’s March 2016 Complaint Report.

Of his bill, Rep. Salmon said, “We owe it to the American people to make this information as accurate and as clear as possible. Unfortunately, the current database is disorganized and does little to provide the American people with important information to inform their decision-making. My bill would improve the current database by requiring the CFPB to verify the facts of each complaint and present this information in an aggregated format so that consumers have better access to CFPB-collected data and can make better decisions about their financial futures.”

National Mortgage Professional magazine reported on June 17 that the legislation currently has no co-sponsors, and there is no companion bill in the U.S. Senate. It is highly unlikely that this amendment will be embraced in Congress, which suggests that consumer complaints will remain a very real risk for financial services companies, particularly lenders.