The Ombudsman’s Office annual report is available today on our webpage. Each year our annual report, which I deliver to the Director, outlines our work process and summarizes our activities from this past fiscal year.
The Ombudsman’s Office is an independent, impartial, and confidential resource that assists consumers, financial entities, consumer or trade groups, and others in informally resolving process issues with the CFPB. This year, we particularly called upon two ombudsman attributes, our nimble nature and our review of process through a fairness lens, in consideration of the significant events of FY2020 and as reflected throughout our report.
Our report describes updates to our internal and external engagement and, specifically, how we connected with stakeholders during the COVID-19 pandemic. As in previous years, the Demonstrating the Ombudsman in Practice section provides short examples from this year that illustrate the various ways in which we can assist on topics, such as highlighting previous stakeholder feedback as applied to new CFPB initiatives, providing feedback on technology to assist the public and CFPB, and connecting state agencies with the CFPB.
New this year, we conducted a beta test for a post-examination survey of companies supervised by the CFPB. Our report summarizes why we decided to proceed with a beta test, the test hypothesis, the preparation for the beta test, the survey format, unattributed feedback and recommendations for the CFPB, and information on our beta test evaluation. Following completion of our annual report, we concluded our beta test evaluation and determined that our office will conduct a post-examination survey of supervised entities as a new initiative going forward.
In FY2020, we also celebrated the fifth anniversary of our Ombudsman Forum program. To adapt during the COVID-19 pandemic, we identified themes of mutual stakeholder interest with a nexus to the present time from our eight previous Forums with various stakeholder communities to include: Connecting In; Engagement; Guidance – Regulations and Compliance; Website and Digital Access; and Coordination with Government Entities. We then provided an opportunity for external stakeholders to share feedback on these themes and, as with all process topics, continue to be available to connect on these themes.
Again, this year, our report shares information about individual inquiries received by our office as well as the associated analysis and data. New this year is a list of some misconceptions we hear in the Ombudsman’s Office about the CFPB’s consumer complaint process.
We also include a discussion of our work on two systemic issues:
- Clarifications around the CFPB’s announcement and processes for small business lending discrimination complaints
- Information the CFPB provides during and at the conclusion of examinations
Additionally, we share updated information on two issues from previous years: how non-consumers contact the CFPB on the telephone and consumer complaints referred to the CFPB from other agencies.
As we start the new fiscal year, we will continue to be nimble and use our fairness lens to advocate for fair process in consumer financial protection. We welcome you to contact us about topics we have shared in our report, ask questions about our role, or discuss process matters at CFPBOmbudsman@cfpb.gov or (855) 830-7880.
Wendy Kamenshine is the Ombudsman for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.