The CFPB has issued a request for information that seeks comment on potential changes to the CFPB’s practices for the public reporting of consumer complaint information. Comments on the RFI must be received by June 4, 2018.
In the RFI, the CFPB seeks feedback on all aspects of its consumer complaint reporting and publication practices, including the following:
- Specific, statutorily-permissible suggestions regarding the frequency of the CFPB’s reporting on consumer complaints (We note that the CFPB has not published a complaint report since Mick Mulvaney was appointed Acting Director by President Trump.)
- Specific, statutorily-permissible suggestions on the content of the CFPB’s reporting on consumer complaints, including:
- Whether it is net beneficial or net harmful to the transparent and efficient operation of markets for consumer financial products and services for the CFPB to publish the names of the most-complained-about companies
- Whether the CFPB should change the data fields in the Consumer Complaint Database
- Whether the CFPB should supplement observations from consumer complaints with observations of company responses to complaints
- Whether the CFPB should change the same amount of information it shares on month-to-month trends and particular products and services
- Whether the CFPB should change the amount of context it provides for complaint information, particular with regard to product or service market share and company size
- Specific suggestions on reporting methodology, including
- Whether the CFPB should continue to analyze data for seasonal fluctuations
- Whether the CFPB should change the amount of context it provides for complaint information, particularly with regard to product or service market share and company size, including the data sets or data sources the CFPB should use
- Specific, statutorily-permissible suggestions for the process for publication of consumer complaint information, including:
- Whether the CFPB should notify the most-complained-about companies about their inclusion in a report before publication and invite company comment
- Whether the CFPB should devote resources to building tools to enable users to analyze complaint data
- Whether the CFPB should change the level of access external stakeholders have to complaint information
One of the CFPB’s primary functions set forth in the Dodd-Frank Act is “collecting, investigating, and responding to consumer complaints.” As a result, there is no suggestion in the RFI that the elimination of the CFPB’s complaint process is under consideration. In addition, the focus of the topics listed by the CFPB in the RFI is the reporting of complaint information following the CFPB’s receipt of complaints. There is no indication that the CFPB plans to look at the process for companies to respond to complaints or whether it should verify complaints before publishing them.
The new RFI represents the sixth in a series of RFIs announced by Mr. Mulvaney. The subjects of the CFPB’s first five RFIs and their comment deadlines are as follows:
- Processes surrounding civil investigative demands and investigational hearings-March 27, 2018
- Administrative adjudication processes-April 6, 2018
- Enforcement processes-April 13, 2018
- Supervision program-May 21, 2018
- External engagement-May 29, 2018
In its press release announcing the sixth RFI, the CFPB stated that the next RFI in the series will be issued next week and will address the CFPB’s rulemaking processes.