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News: Feds Add Personal Stories to Consumer Complaint Database -

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has enhanced its consumer complaint database, adding consumer narratives to the existing data. The database was launched in June 2012 and has been periodically expanded since its debut. However, the addition of over 7,700 stories directly from consumers is the biggest change yet. It aims to help people make informed decisions about financial products like credit cards, mortgages, student loans, bank accounts and more.

Richard Cordray, director of the bureau, which was created as part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, explained the importance of including the narratives in the database: "Every complaint tells us what people are facing in the financial marketplace. Publishing these consumer stories today is a historic milestone that we believe will lead to better outcomes for everyone." The consumer narratives detail problems and issues folks have had with credit card issuers, mortgage lenders, debt collectors and other providers of financial products.

The CFPB has been collecting consumer complaints since its inception in July 2011; giving voice to consumers' grievances is integral to the bureau's mission. By of the beginning of June 2015, the CFPB had logged more than 627,000 complaints from people across the country. Mortgages and debt collections top the list of most frequently griped-about issues.

Taking action along with complaints

The database currently consistsanonymous information about the complaints submitted. This includes the complainant's zip code, the date of the complaint, the company in question, the product, the problem, and the company's response to the problem. Now, it will also include a personal narrative from the individual submitting the complaint. People can choose whether or not to share their story when they submit a complaint; they must "opt-in" in order for the story to be published on the site. All personally identifying information will be removed from the stories before inclusion in the database.

The CFPB doesn't simply collect complaints from consumers; they take action when warranted. Over the last four years, the bureau has secured millions of dollars in monetary relief for people who have been unfairly treated by financial companies.

The complaint database will let visitors search for specific information about certain companies, as well as focusing on particular problematic practices and providing insight about financial products.

Features include:

- The ability to search for product names, brands, and features

- State-specific information that can be sorted by zip code and will highlight local trends

- Search function for specific complaints, such as "foreclosure scam," "lost paperwork," or "robo-signing."

Companies are given the option to respond to complaints and have those responses included in the database. Complaints are not published until companies have had a window of 15 days to respond. Consumer narratives will not be published until companies have had 60 calendar days to furnish a response.

For more information, to make a complaint, or to access the database, visit site.