On Friday, the CFPB announced that it had expanded its public Consumer Complaint Database to include complaints about credit reporting and money transfers. Simultaneously, the CFPB announced that complaints in its public database are searchable by state.
The CFPB uses complaints its receives to prioritize and prepare for investigations and examinations. The public database now contains complaints about credit cards, mortgages, student loans, bank accounts and services, other consumer loans, credit reporting, and money transfers. Debt collection complaints are due to be added to the database in the near future. The CFPB does not verify the facts alleged in a complaint before making it public (but it at least confirms that the consumer has a commercial relationship with the company).
The complaint data, which was searchable by zip code previously (among other ways of sorting the data), is now also searchable by state, including, in keeping with the CFPB’s efforts to protect servicemembers, military APO and FPO addresses. The ability to sort and acquire complaint data by state will be welcomed by state regulators, attorneys general and plaintiffs’ attorneys, who appear to be using the database to generate ideas for enforcement actions and litigation.
As of this writing, the public database contains about 113,000 complaints, with more than 6,700 credit reporting complaints, but only 63 money transfer complaints. The money transfer complaints were filed against banks as well as non-banks. Credit reporting complaints have been filed against creditors, debt collectors, and credit reporting agencies.
Credit reporting complaints are categorized in one of five ways by the consumer and are searchable on the same bases: “Incorrect information on a credit report;” “Problems with a credit reporting company’s investigation;” “Improper use of a credit report;” “Not being able to get a credit report or credit score;” or “Problems with credit monitoring or identity protection services.”
Money transfer complaints are categorized and searchable in six ways: “Money was not available when promised;” “The wrong amount was charged or received;” “There was incorrect/missing disclosures or information;” “Other transaction issues such as an unauthorized transaction, cancellation, or refund;” “Other service issues such as with advertising, marketing, pricing, or privacy;” or “Other fraud or scam issues.”
The addition of credit reporting and money transfer complaints was expected. The CFPB has stated that once it begins accepting complaints about a financial product or service, it will add those types of complaints to the public database “in the near future.” The CFPB began accepting money transfer complaints on April 4th, 2013 and credit reporting complaints on October 22, 2012.
Last month, Ballard Spahr held a webinar to discuss ways that companies can mitigate risks associated with the complaint database while ensuring good customer experiences and positive outcomes. The webinar recording and slides are available to clients and members of the financial services industry by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.