Consumer bureau plans ‘enhanced data and context’ for consumer complaint database, will keep narratives

Agency will explore companies' ability to respond to complaints publicly

The consumer complaint database maintained by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is slated for enhancements that will include modified disclaimers regarding the published data, more prominence for answers to common financial questions and information to assist those who want to contact companies directly for answers to their specific questions.

The CFPB received nearly 26,000 comments on its request for information last year, part of the “call for evidence” by then-Acting Director John (“Mick”) Mulvaney. Current Director Kathleen Kraninger, noting the database “has not been without controversy” since its inception, said in a statement Wednesday that, after considering that input, “we are announcing the continued publication of complaints with enhanced data and context that will benefit consumers and users of the database while addressing many of the concerns raised.”

The CFPB, in a release, said it is making changes to its website to provide disclosures on the nature of complaints as well as resources to consumers, including:

  • More prominently display disclosures making it clear that the Consumer Complaint Database is not a statistical sample of consumers’ experiences in the marketplace;
  • Highlighting the availability of answers to common financial questions for consumers to help inform them before they submit a complaint; and
  • Highlighting consumers ability to contact the financial company directly to get answers to their specific questions.

The agency said it will continue to publish all previously disclosed fields, including consumers’ narrative descriptions of their complaints. In the coming months, it says, it will make the following enhancements:

  • Build and launch dynamic visualization tools including geospatial and trend views based on recent complaint data to help users of the database understand current and recent marketplace conditions;
  • Emphasize features for aggregation and analysis while continuing to make all the underlying data available for analysis;
  • Explore expansion of a company’s ability to respond publicly to individual complaints listed in the database; and
  • Continue to explore ways to put the complaint data in context of other data, such as by incorporating product or service market share and company size.

The bureau said it has handled more than 1.9 million complaints. More than 5,000 financial companies have responded through this process, providing timely responses to 97% of the more than 1.3 million complaints sent to them for response, it said.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to Enhance Consumer Complaint Database