According to a news release from Congressman Matt Salmon (R-AZ), last week the House member introduced H.R. 5413, The CFPB Data Accountability Act, to amend the way complaints are handled at the CFPB. As he states,

“Under current law, the CFPB launched a Consumer Complaint Database that serves as a mechanism to inform the consumer about potentially troublesome institutions. We owe it to the American people to make this information as accurate and as clear as possible. Unfortunately, the current database is disorganized and does little to provide the American people with important information to inform their decision-making. My bill would improve the current database by requiring the CFPB to verify the facts of each complaint and present this information in an aggregated format so that consumers have better access to CFPB-collected data and can make better decisions about their financial futures.”

The bill requires the CFPB to make the following changes to its website:

“(i) AGGREGATED FORMAT.—With respect to consumer complaint information obtained by the Bureau under this paragraph, the Bureau may only make such information available to the public on the website in an aggregated format and after taking steps to ensure that proprietary, personal, or confidential consumer information is not made public on such website.

“(ii) VERIFICATION REQUIREMENT.—The Bureau shall verify any consumer complaint information included under clause (i) where the complaint alleges a violation of a law, regulation, or contractual agreement between a consumer and a covered person who offered or provided the consumer financial product or service to the consumer.

“(iii) REPORT OF COMPLAINT PERCENTAGES.—With respect to consumer complaint information about a particular consumer financial product or service, the Bureau may only make such information available to the public on the website if the Bureau accompanies such information with statistics on how many consumer complaints the Bureau receives with respect to the particular consumer financial product or service compared to the total number of consumers making use of such consumer financial product or service.

“(iv) QUALITY, OBJECTIVITY, UTILITY, AND INTEGRITY OF INFORMATION.—The Bureau shall comply with all guidelines issued by the Director of the Office of Management and Budget pursuant to section 515 of H.R. 5658, as enacted by section 1(a)(3) of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2001.”.

insideARM Perspective

insideARM has written extensively about the limitations of, and lack of context provided with, data from the CFPB Complaint Portal.

Most recently, former CPFB Senior Advisor Jim McCarthy spoke to industry attendees at our April 2016 Larger Market Participant Summit and told attendees that they should be more forceful about requesting the backup documentation that consumers submit along with complaints, but is not currently provided to companies.

Here are a few other recent stories on this topic worth reviewing:

NBC Debt Collection Article Includes Some Context, But Could Be Better

Latest CFPB Complaint Report is Routine, But Provides a Nugget or Two

Debt Collection Complaints to FTC Flooded by PrivacyStar Mobile App

When it Comes to Errors, Cordray Holds CFPB to a Different Standard Than Those He Regulates

CFPB Consumer Response Clarifies Definition of Duplicate Complaint, and Other Updates

As for the bill introduced last week in Congress, unfortunately for industry members who would cheer this bill,  in an OpEd piece published by the Arizona Republic in February, Salmon announced that he will be leaving politics at the end of the year to spend more time with his family. We’ll have to see whether someone else willing to champion this cause will sign on to co-sponsor the legislation.

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