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CFPB Launches Consumer Complaint Database

CFPB Also Releases Snapshot Report of Complaints to June 1

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) launched a public Consumer Complaint Database on credit cards. The CFPB also released a snapshot of the complaints it has received on credit cards, mortgages, private student loans, and bank products through June 1, including six stories of success.

“Each and every time we hear from American consumers about their troublesome transactions with financial products, it gives us important insight,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “The information helps us and it should be available to help others too.  By making our data publicly available, initially in the area of credit cards, we hope to improve the transparency and efficiency of this essential consumer market.”

The Consumer Complaint Database

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which created the CFPB, gave the CFPB authority to make public information about the markets for consumer financial products and services. In December, the CFPB asked the public to comment on a proposed policy of making some credit card complaint data publicly available. After considering those comments, the CFPB has finalized its policy for disclosing some of the data through its Consumer Complaint Database.

The Consumer Complaint Database allows the public to know what is being complained about and why. It contains certain individual-level field data collected by the CFPB, including the type of complaint, the date of submission, the consumer’s zip code, and the company that the complaint concerns. The database also includes information about the actions taken on a complaint – whether the company’s response was timely, how the company responded, and whether the consumer disputed the company’s response. The database does not include confidential information about a consumer’s identity.

A company may respond to a complaint in four ways: a complaint could be closed with monetary relief, without monetary relief, with an explanation, or the company could simply close it. Closing a complaint with non-monetary relief could include things like changing account terms, correcting submissions to a credit bureau, or coming up with a foreclosure alternative that doesn’t have direct monetary value to the consumer. Closing a complaint with explanation means the company provides an explanation to the consumer that substantively meets the consumer’s desired resolution or explains why no further action will be taken. When a complaint is simply closed by the company that means the company is closing it without relief or explanation. Consumer Response prioritizes for review and investigation complaints in which the consumer disputes the response or where companies fail to provide a timely response.

Consistent with the CFPB’s goal to be a 21st Century agency, the Consumer Complaint Database is web-based and user friendly. Features of its functionality include the ability to: filter data based on specific search criteria; aggregate data in various ways, such as by complaint type, issuer, location, date, or any combination of available variables; and download data.

The database will be populated by credit card complaints received by the CFPB on and after June 1, 2012. Complaints are only uploaded after the company verifies that it has been correctly identified by the complainant. That may be done within days or a company may take the full 15 days that the CFPB allows. As it is a live database that updates daily, the public will see more information in the database as more complaints are received. Additional retroactive data will be added when the “beta” tag is removed by the end of this year.

The beta version of the Consumer Complaint Database will go live at 8 a.m. ET on Tuesday, June 19 at: www.consumerfinance.gov/complaintdatabase

The CFPB policy statement on the Consumer Complaint Database is available here: http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/201206_cfpb_notice-of-final-policy-statement_disclosure-of-credit-card-complaint-data.pdf

A Snapshot of Helping Consumers

In addition to the database, the CFPB will continue to publish reports containing aggregate data and analysis of all the complaints it receives. The CFPB has already published three such reports. The CFPB started taking complaints on credit cards first, when the agency opened its doors on July 21, 2011. Since then, it has expanded its complaint function to include complaints relating to mortgages, private student loans, other consumer loans, and bank products and services, such as checking or savings accounts.

Today, the CFPB is also publishing a snapshot of complaints received through June 1, 2012. In that period, the CFPB has received more than 45,000 complaints. Among the findings in the snapshot report:

  • Credit Cards: The CFPB has received 17,000 credit card complaints. The most common type of credit card complaints are billing disputes.  Since December 2011, for the more than 2,000 complaints where credit card companies reported monetary relief, the median amount of relief reported was approximately $130 with $25 being the most common amount.
  • Mortgages: The CFPB officially began taking mortgage complaints in December 2011 and has received 19,000 mortgage complaints. The most common type of mortgage complaints arise when consumers are having difficulty paying and have to do with loan modifications, collections, or foreclosure. The median amount of monetary relief reported was approximately $410 for the 600 mortgage complaints where companies reported relief.
  • Checking Accounts: The CFPB officially began taking complaints on bank products and services in March 2012. The CFPB has received 6,500 complaints. The median amount of monetary relief reported was approximately $100 for the more than 1,000 bank product and service complaints where companies reported relief.

Stories of Success

The snapshot report also includes stories from consumers who have been helped by the CFPB and who have agreed to let the CFPB make their experiences public.

  • Ronald who overpaid his mortgage for more than three years because he could not find the right paperwork. When the CFPB contacted the bank, it reimbursed him $30,000.
  • Julio who struggled to pay his private student loans. When the CFPB got involved, the private lender discovered Julio was in fact eligible for significantly reduced payments.
  • Nelda who had a collection agency after her for credit card purchases she never made. After she contacted the CFPB, the card issuer accepted that the charges were fraudulent.
  • Tom who got the runaround for three years from his bank while he tried to modify his mortgage. After the CFPB got involved, the bank reimbursed Tom $20,000 for their errors.
  • Jonna who was accruing high fees on her credit card because of a card issuer computer glitch. After she contacted the CFPB, the issuer corrected their errors.
  • Greg who had his credit score damaged after a bank failed to tell him that his account was in arrears. After the CFPB intervened, the bank removed the negative report.

The snapshot and stories of success can be found here: http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/201206_cfpb_shapshot_complaints-received.pdf

Next Steps

Today, the CFPB is also submitting to the Federal Register a request for comments on extending the database to financial products other than credit cards. The comment period will be open until July 19. The CFPB welcomes public feedback.

The public will be able to weigh in on the CFPB’s proposal on the disclosure of other complaint data, by going to: http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/201206_cfpb_notice-of-proposed-policy-statement_disclosure-of-non-credit-card-complaint-data.pdf

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The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a 21st century agency that helps consumer finance markets work by making rules more effective, by consistently and fairly enforcing those rules, and by empowering consumers to take more control over their economic lives. For more information, visit www.ConsumerFinance.gov.

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