The CFPB has made noteworthy efforts to process and publicize more than 395,000 complaints about financial institutions through its Consumer Complaint Database, a remarkable number for a new program that has been operating for less than three years. By providing a single, efficient route for consumers to voice complaints about a wide variety of financial actors and products, this system enables individual concerns to be raised and resolved quickly. The system also provides an opportunity for CFPB staff, outside analysts, and the general public to use the database to identify broader patterns and underlying systemic issues that cut across the financial system, including concerns that other tools may fail to capture.
Recently, the CFPB released for public comment a new proposal to release narrative data on consumer complaints. This additional data would greatly strengthen the Consumer Complaint Database by making the actual text of a complaint, excluding any personally identifiable information, public with the consent of the consumer. This effort is worthy of support, provided that consumers choose whether to make their complaints public and retain the ability to make the complaint private in the future. The CFPB should also implement the proposal’s recommendation that the financial institution’s response be made public as well.
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