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Comp Blog

CFPB proposes expanding complaint database to include written narratives

By: Danielle Wright

CommentWednesday - July 16, 2014

Today, the CFPB released a proposal to expand its consumer compliant database to include written consumer narratives/ descriptions of their complaints. Consumer advocacy groups have been pushing for this narrative-style complaint input since the Bureau’s inception back in 2011, and it seems the Bureau has now proposed such a system. This proposed policy statement is now open for 30 days of public comment.


Back in April, I did a 4-part blog series that covered the CFPB’s complaint database system and accompanying processes. The current complaint database only includes basic complaint information, such as type of financial product and company name. Today’s proposal would expand this database by giving consumers the additional option of submitting a written narrative, which would be published alongside the basic complaint information.


Some added features may be:


  • Providing context to the complaints- While the current database captures the basics of a consumer’s complaint, the amount of context provided is limited. Complaints are grouped into dozens of high-level categories such as “billing disputes,” “transaction issues,” or “advertising and marketing.” The Bureau believes that including the consumer’s narrative would increase the level of useful detail in the complaint database.
  • Spotlighting specific trends- With narratives, the Bureau believes it can determine if a specific issue is localized in a particular geographic area or with a specific company, or if it’s a practice used by companies across the product market.

In the proposal, the Bureau also set forth several safeguards for this information including a consumer opt-in, removal of personally identifiable information (PII), and giving companies opportunities to post written responses or counter-narratives. Consumers can also withdraw their narratives at any time.



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