The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is currently working with the five largest credit card companies to develop a system for resolving consumer complaints. Each of the five companies — Chase, AmEx, Discover, Capital One, and Bank of America — may be required to form dedicated teams to handle the complaints. The program is scheduled to roll out on July 21.
FTC is a Baseline
Currently, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) takes phone calls, emails and online submission forms that equate to about 16,000 consumer complaints per week. The agency then compiles the information gathered from the complaints to create an annual report that is available to the public. In turn, the agency also works with law enforcement to investigate the complaints, which include fraud and other criminal acts. According to the chief operating officer of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Catherine West, the bureau will be using the FTC standards and guidelines as its baseline for creating its own complaint system.
Private or Not Private
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is struggling with whether or not the consumer complaint information should be made public or not. Consumer advocacy groups, such as the Consumers Union, say the bureau should make the information public. These groups also argue that the information should be made available in a searchable database format, so that complaints can be researched using various search criteria and variables.
Businesses, on the other hand, have a different take on the situation. Their concern is valid because if complaints are unverified, it could harm the reputation of the business, which can ultimately affect sales. According to groups, such as the American Bankers Association, these groups are urging the bureau to hold back making the complaint information public until after the system officially launches on July 21. Even when the system launches, these groups are also urging the bureau to establish a formal set of rules for the complaint process, including allowing businesses an ample amount of time to provide feedback on the proposed rules.
Mortgage Shopping Sheet
While rolling out the new complaint resolution system, the bureau is simultaneously releasing a simplified two-page mortgage form for a trial run. This form would replace the five-page form used today. The two-page format provides consumers with basic mortgage information on the first page, which includes the interest rate, monthly mortgage payments and closing costs. The second page then provides the details of the information provided on page one. The new form would give the pertinent information right on page one with the purpose of making it easier for consumers to evaluate whether or not they can afford the mortgage they are considering. It would also enable them to shop and compare offers from different lenders.