The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced today that it had finalized its Disclosure of Complaint Narrative Data policy, which will allow consumers to submit personal narratives when issuing a complaint to the CFPB’s public-facing Consumer Complaint Database.
“Consumer narratives shed light on the full consumer perspective behind a complaint,” Director Richard Cordray said in a press release. “Narratives humanize the problems consumers face in the marketplace. Today’s policy will serve to empower consumers by helping them make informed decisions and helping track trends in the consumer financial market.”
The regulatory agency said that it had finalized the consumer narrative policy — originally proposed in July 2014 – “after receiving and considering comments from consumer groups, trade associations, companies, and individuals.”
In all, the CFPB received 137 comments on the proposal. Among them, industry groups argued that the proposed policy would introduce unverified, and potentially false information to the public.
The CFPB contends, however, that firsthand accounts of consumers’ experiences will provide context to complaints, spotlight specific trends, and help consumers make informed decisions, according to today’s release.
The finalized policy includes a number of “safeguards for a clear, fair, and transparent process,” according to the bureau. Specifically, in order for the bureau to publicly share a consumer’s complaint narrative, the complaint must be submitted through the CFPB website; it may not be a duplicate submission; and the consumer must have a confirmed relationship with the financial institution.
Currently, complaints are listed in the database only after the company responds to the complaint, or after it has had the complaint for 15 days, the CFPB said. Under the new policy, “the CFPB will disclose the consumer narrative when the company provides its public-facing response, or after the company has had the complaint for 60 calendar days, whichever comes first.”
The bureau also announced that it will not publish any consented-to narrative for at least 90 days after the policy’s publication in the Federal Register, in order for companies to learn about this new system.
All consumer complaints, and how the companies responded, are publicly displayed on the CFPB’s website, and all auto finance-related complaint information is also shown in real-time, on autofinancenews.net.
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