‘Usefulness’ of consumer complaint reporting the 6th info request in Mulvaney’s search for ‘evidence’ of how CFPB does its job

“Usefulness” of complaint reporting and analysis, and specific suggestions for best practices for doing so, are the subjects of the sixth and latest “request for information” (RFI) Thursday by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

The most recent in what the bureau has said will total 12 RFIs calls for a comment period of 90 days; the agency expects the comment period to open March 7 (the publication of the notice in the Federal Register).

CFPB began issuing the RFIs six weeks ago in an effort to gather “evidence” that the agency is “fulfilling its proper and appropriate functions to best protect consumers.” The program was announced by CFPB Acting Director Mick Mulvaney seven weeks ago.

In its public notice about the information request, CFPB stated that it seeks public input about potential changes to its public reporting practices of consumer complaint information, and to consider whether any changes to the practices would be appropriate.

However, the bureau stated, it will issue an additional RFI on consumer inquiries and related process activities (the last in the series, in about six weeks). The difference between that RFI from the one issued Thursday, CFPB said, is that the most recent request “seeks feedback on all aspects of its consumer complaint reporting and publication practices; the Bureau is not seeking comment in this RFI on consumer inquiries and related process activities.”

Specifically, the bureau said it wants input about the usefulness to external stakeholders of complaint reporting and analysis. Under suggestions or best practices for complaint reporting, CFPB said that includes those related to its partial objective to “ensure that markets for consumer financial products and services operate transparently and efficiently to facilitate access and innovation.”

Even more specifically, the agency said it is looking for comments on such areas as:

  • the frequency of the bureau’s reporting on consumer complaints;
  • the content of the bureau’s reporting on consumer complaints (including frequency of of reporting on state and local complaint trends; costs and benefits of publishing the names of the most-complained-about companies; amount of information it publishes in the Consumer Complaint Database);
  • reporting methodology generally;
  • publication process of consumer complaint information (including notification of the most-complained-about companies of their inclusion in a bureau report prior to publication and inviting company comment; the level of access to complaint information available to external stakeholders such as financial institutions and the public).

Request for Information Regarding Bureau Public Reporting Practices of Consumer Complaint Information