Published: September 2014

Details of consumers’ complaints regarding the financial industry should be public

Consumer advocates wrote to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) in favor of publishing consumers' complaint narratives regarding the banking, credit and loan industries. Public complaint details empower consumers to make better financial decisions, prevents problems and improves the functioning, transparency, and efficiency of markets. However, leaders from the financial industry do not agree and fear their reputations will be hurt if complaint details are made publicly available.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) invited comments from the public regarding the bureau's proposed expansion of its consumer complaint database that includes publicly publishing full narratives of consumers' complaints against financial institutions. Consumer Action and coalition advocates wrote in favor of the expansion and hope that publishing such detials will help protect consumers from making financially damaging choices.

According to CFPB Director Richard Cordray “[The database] is playing a tangible role in producing a shift in the financial industry toward more emphasis on excellent customer service,” Cordray said at the CFPB’s consumer advisory board meeting on Sept. 11, 2014. However, leaders from the financial industry do not agree with his claims.

Concerns from those who disagree with the expansion site it to be outside the bureau's authority. They also worry about the bureau's intent and capacity to verify the complaints before publishing, which could prove damaging to the businesses in question. While businesses will have time to respond to the complaints, many opponents believe the fifteen day response period is not sufficient.

While some outstanding privacy concerns regarding consumers who are submitting the complaints have yet to be addressed, consumer advocates ultimately agree that the expansion will help consumers learn from others' mistakes (with informed consumer consent) and allow the public to make more informed decisions regarding loans, credit and mortgages. Public complaint narratives provide a tool to better identify and avoid unfair, deceptive or dangerous financial products and practices, incent clear information, quick resolution of problems, and excellent customer service.

Other Organizations

Americans for Financial Reform | Alliance for a Just Society | Arkansas Community Organization California Reinvestment Coalition | CCAG (Connecticut Citizen Action Group) | Center for Digital Democracy | Center for Responsible Lending | Community Legal Services, Philadelphia | Connecticut Fair Housing Center | Consumer Action | Consumer Federation of America | Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety | Consumer Watchdog | Demos | Electronic Privacy Information Center | Empire Justice Center | Florida Alliance for Consumer Protection | Home Defenders League | International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace & Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) | Keystone Progress | Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights | Massachusetts Consumers' Coalition | MASSPIRG | Miami Valley Fair Housing Center, Dayton Ohio | Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment | NAACP | National Association of Consumer Advocates | National Consumer Law Center (on behalf of its low income clients) | National Council of La Raza | National Fair Housing Alliance | National People’s Action | New Economy Project | New Jersey Citizen Action | New Jersey Communities United | Oregon Consumer League | Privacy Rights Clearinghouse | Privacy Times | Project on Government Oversight | Public Citizen | Public Justice Center | South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center | Southwest Center for Economic Integrity | Texas Legal Services Center | The Institute For College Access and Success | U.S.PIRG | Virginia Citizens Consumer Council | Woodstock Institute | World Privacy Forum

More Information

For more information on the proposed complaint database expansion, please visit the CFPB's website.


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Details of consumers’ complaints regarding the financial industry should be public   (CFPB_complaint_comments.pdf)




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