Consumers hold the power with CFPB’s Complaint Database

I, like most of us, have been dissatisfied with service provided by my credit card company or my bank and the first thing I want to do is express my frustration. Most times, I complain to the institution directly. While it is tempting to sometimes take my complaint to a regulatory agency, I have always declined to do so thinking that my complaint will just end up in a stack of papers on someone’s desk not to be seen for months. The new Complaint Database created by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) may have changed my mind.

The enactment of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act led to the creation of the CFPB. One of its responsibilities is to accept complaints from consumers about credit cards, mortgages, banking products and services private student loans, and other consumer loans. 

Since launching the database, the CFPB has received tens of thousands of complaints that the general public can browse through a searchable online complaint database. The data can be searched using the company name, the zip code, the complaint issue, and more.

The CFPB published a report on complaints received from the database launch on July 21, 2011 to June 1, 2012. Key findings from the report include:

  • CFPB received about 45,630 consumer complaints
    • 16,840 credit card complaints
    • 19,250 mortgage complaints
    • 6,490 bank products and services complaints
    • 1,270 private student loan complaints
  • How complaints reached the CFPB
    • 44% submitted through the website
    • 39% referred from other regulatory agencies
    • 11% through telephone calls
    • 6% by mail, email, and fax

Consumer Response: A Snapshot of Complaints Received, p.4. June 19, 2012. 

The report explains the complaint process and shares various stories of consumers who achieved success through the database. What I found most appealing is that the CFPB’s Consumer Response Team will follow up on all complaints that are sent to the companies. The complaints receive priority if the company does not timely respond or the consumer disputes the company’s response. Consumers have support throughout the process.

So the next time you feel like your financial service company is giving you the run-around, you have another resource available to you. The CFPB’s U.S.-based contact centers take calls with little-to-no wait times and provides services in 187 languages and for hearing- and speech-impaired consumers via a toll-free telephone number. If you have a complaint about financial products or services, visit http://www.consumerfinance.gov/complaint/.

 

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