July 16, 2014

CFPB may allow public complaints on products, services

July 17, 2014 – CFPB's proposal to allow consumers to air more detailed complaints about financial products and services in the public Consumer Complaint Database has NAFCU concerned about the impact on credit unions. The proposal is expected to be discussed during a CFPB field hearing streamed live today from El Paso, Texas.

Under the policy proposed Wednesday, the bureau would offer consumers making complaints the option to share the narrative behind the complaint on the public database, which the bureau said would "help the public detect specific trends in the market, aid consumer decision-making, and drive improved consumer service."

NAFCU has serious concerns about potential impact on credit unions' reputational risk from the inclusion of unverified complaints in a public database. "Credit unions take great care to address their member's complaints directly and foster ongoing relationships with their members," NAFCU Director of Regulatory Affairs Mike Coleman said in a statement Wednesday. "At first blush, the risks of unwarranted reputational harm to good actors far outweigh any benefits this proposal would create to assist the CFPB to resolve legitimate complaints."

The database now has anonymous information about the complaint received, such as the consumer's zip code. Wednesday's proposal would allow the consumer's narrative description of what happened to be included in the database, if the consumer chooses. The bureau also said it would offer companies the chance to have their responses published concurrently.

"[We] believe strongly in something that Texas native Walter Cronkite once said: ‘In seeking truth you have to get both sides of a story,' " CFPB Director Richard Cordray said. "Complaints are not entered into the public database until after the company responds or has had the complaint for 15 calendar days without responding."

Today's hearing is open to the public, but RSVP is required.