On September 7, 2012, the CFPB hosted a webinar, followed by a Q&A session, covering the Bureau’s Consumer Complaint Database.  The webinar was conducted by Camille Busette, the CFPB’s Assistant Director of the Office of Financial Education, and Scott Pluta, the Assistant Director for Consumer Response. 

Perhaps the most significant announcement during the presentation was that by the end of September, a government portal will be launched through which other federal regulators, state regulators, and attorneys general will be able to exchange complaint information.  Also on the topic of information sharing, the Bureau announced that retroactive data on complaints will likely be available by December 1, 2012. 

The CFPB announced that it will begin taking complaints regarding credit bureaus and credit reporting agencies by the end of the year.  The presenters also briefly discussed the process that it hopes consumers will use, in light of the typically high volume of credit bureau and credit reporting agency complaints.  According to Mr. Pluta, the CFPB will ask that consumers first exhaust the dispute process available under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and then file a complaint with the CFPB should any issues remain. 

The Bureau stated that the database will expand to receive complaints regarding additional non-bank industries in 2013.  We anticipate that any such expansions would be effective only after the larger participant rule for the particular sector has become final. 

Of interest, the CFPB noted that there are now 300 companies with established complaint portals on the database.  Further, at this time, only 50% of consumer complaints are submitted online.  The complaint portal will soon be fully accessible to Spanish-speaking consumers, and the CFPB’s call center supports 187 languages.