July 17, 2014

Cordray on complaint database: Story has 2 sides

July 18, 2014 – CFPB Director Richard Cordray discussed the importance of knowing both sides of the story Thursday during a field hearing in El Paso, Texas, on the bureau's consumer complaint database and plans to allow consumers' narratives to be shown in the public database.

The field hearing, streamed live, included remarks from Cordray on the proposal to allow consumers to air more detailed complaints about financial products and services in the public consumer complaint database. NAFCU is concerned about the potential impact the publicizing of unverified narrative complaints could have on credit unions in terms of reputational risk.

"Credit unions take great care to address their members' complaints directly and foster ongoing relationships," 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."

CFPB staff showed a video of individual consumers describing their complaint narratives, before a panel discussion with stakeholders. Cordray said, "As with the complaint database itself, we verify that a commercial relationship exists between the consumer and the company − that the consumer does in fact have an account or does in fact do business with that company."

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