In a recent blog post, the CFPB announced that it has started sharing consumer complaint data with local governments through its Government Portal.  The Government Portal gives local, state, and federal government agencies access to more granular information about consumers’ complaints and companies’ responses than the public is able to view through the CFPB’s public-facing Consumer Complaint Database.  The CFPB indicated that this initiative is intended to “increase the impact of our complaint data” by giving cities and counties information that will allow them to “increase their efforts to protect consumers at the local level.”  The initiative is consistent with statements made by Director Chopra regarding increased CFPB collaboration with other enforcement authorities.

The cities and counties initially chosen by the CFPB to receive access were those the CFPB deemed “best positioned to benefit from the CFPB’s complaint data” consisting of:

  • Local governments with civil or criminal prosecutorial authority to monitor and enforce their own consumer protection laws as well as force-multiply enforcement of federal consumer financial protection laws such as those available under the Consumer Financial Protection Act; and
  • Local governments that have, or that are working to create, financial empowerment offices and financial empowerment strategies to improve financial stability for low- and moderate-income households.

To be onboarded onto the Government Portal, cities and counties must sign a confidentiality and data access agreement with personal data protection requirements.  A city or county that is onboarded is able to:

  • See in real-time what consumers are experiencing in the financial marketplace and how companies are responding
  • Download complaints, including consumer- and company-provided documents.
  • Filter and export information to allow targeted analysis by time period, company, geography, and more
  • Compare problems their constituents are facing to other localities and nationwide
  • Securely refer individual complaints to the CFPB
  • Receive the list of companies responding to complaints through CFPB’s process

The CFPB states that in a period of less than three months, more than a dozen cities and counties have expressed interest in accessing the Government Portal.  The participating jurisdictions include:

  • Department of Consumer and Business Affairs, Los Angeles County, CA
  • Office of the Harris County Attorney, Harris County, TX
  • Montgomery County Office of Consumer Protection, Montgomery County, MD
  • Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office, Sacramento, CA
  • Los Angeles Office of the City Attorney, Consumer and Workplace Protection, Los Angeles, CA
  • New York City Department of Consumer and Worker Protection, New York City, NY
  • City of Albuquerque Consumer Protection, Office of Policy, Albuquerque, NM
  • City of Austin, Regulatory Monitor, Office of Telecommunications & Regulatory Affairs, Austin, TX
  • Office of the Columbus City Attorney, Columbus, OH
  • Office of Oakland City Attorney, Oakland, CA

The CFPB’s initiative expands enforcement risk by making local governments aware of potential violations of law as to which they have enforcement authority.