The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau went live today with an important new feature of its complaint database. For the first time, the public now has access to accounts of actual consumer experiences. We applaud the CFPB for taking this step, which will vastly expand the value of its complaint system.
The CFPB accepts complaints involving credit cards, mortgages, bank accounts, private student loans, vehicle and other consumer loans, credit reporting, money transfers, debt collection, and payday loans. The Bureau has already handled more than 627,000 complaints, in the process helping consumers secure millions of dollars in monetary relief.
The addition of consumer narratives to the public side of the CFPB’s complaint database will empower consumers and companies alike to make better decisions. Consumers will be able to learn about specific problems that others have encountered, and specific ways in which companies have addressed those problems. They can use the database to learn about other consumers’ experiences with different companies and products, and to avoid dangers and pitfalls.
Now that the CFPB’s database includes this additional information, we expect that still more people will find it worthwhile to use the complaint system, and their contributions in turn will make it increasingly useful.
While banks and lenders fought against this new policy, financial companies also stand to benefit from the ability to hear about consumer experiences at other firms as well as their own, spot opportunities for improvement, and correct problems before they get out of control, the way bad mortgage lending did in the runup to the financial crisis.