Consumer Narratives Amount to "Public Shaming," Bank Group Exec Says | Auto Finance News | Auto Finance News

Consumer Narratives Amount to “Public Shaming,” Bank Group Exec Says

canstockphoto7753262The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says consumer “narratives” are the “heart and soul” of consumer complaints it receives, but to lenders on the receiving end, the narratives amount to “public shaming,” with no way to adequately respond.

Over the objections of trade groups, the CFPB re-launched its consumer complaint database late last week with the addition of consumer narratives, altered only to try and protect consumers’ private information.

CFPB Director Richard Cordray previously argued that “consumer narratives shed light on the full consumer perspective behind a complaint,” and “humanize the problems consumers face in the marketplace,” but many in the industry have objected to the policy since it was first proposed in July 2014.

Richard Hunt, president of the Consumer Bankers Association, said he was “profoundly disappointed” with the online narrative posting, in a statement released last week, saying most banks will continue to choose to speak with customers in confidence, rather than respond publicly.

“Publishing unverified one-sided narratives does not benefit consumers,” he concluded. “The CFPB prides itself on being a data-driven agency, but today’s action is simply a public shaming of banks.”

During an open comment period after the proposed policy was introduced, the CFPB received 137 comments from industry groups which argued that the proposed policy would introduce unverified and potentially false information to the public.

Despite the pushback from the industry, the bureau announced that it finalized the officially titled Disclosure of Complaint Narrative Data policy on March 19. The policy allows consumers the option to submit personal narratives along with complaints, to the CFPB’s public-facing Consumer Complaint Database.

The bureau also announced it would not publish narratives for at least 90 days after the policy’s publication in the Federal Register. That clock ran out last week. The CFPB has published more than 7,700 narratives so far. More than 300 were categorized as auto finance specific.

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