The credit card complaint forum we reported on just days ago is now live, providing a place for disgruntled credit-card holders to air their complaints about practices they perceive to be unfair or deceptive and leaving big banks wary and frustrated.
On Tuesday, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) activated its newest database, the Consumer Complaint Database. The database is in beta form and can be found on the CFPB website, www.consumerfinance.gov.
Dodd-Frank Initiative to Blame
The CFPB was formed just under a year ago, in July 2011, as a part of the controversial Dodd-Frank financial reform act, and aims to increase transparency in the financial services world and advocate for consumers. However, their actions have been continually protested by banks, who aren’t happy about this latest development.
In a statement issued Tuesday, the American Bankers Association (ABA) said “publicizing allegations that may or may not have any basis in fact raises serious questions about the balanced review we expect from our government agencies.”
They went on to say that “the Bureau’s plan to release unverified data is disappointing and could mislead consumers,” and further, that the “proposed database [is] a questionable – even misleading – resource and risks tarnishing the reputation of individual companies without substantiation.”
Agency Claims Fair Oversight
The CFPB, on the other hand, says they are well aware of potential problems and pitfalls of letting consumer outrage run rampant on the Internet. They stress that the database is still in beta form while they work out the kinks, and Scott Pluta, acting assistant director of the CFPB, states on the website that “when a consumer files a complaint, [we] review each one for completeness, jurisdiction, and non-duplication. Complaints that meet these criteria are then forwarded to the appropriate company for review and resolution. Companies are given 15 days to provide a substantive response to each consumer complaint.”
The database so far only shows complaints logged since June 1, and the number is currently under 200 complaints. However, the CFPB began collecting consumer complaints last year and says the number so far is over 16,800. As word spreads about the CFPB database, and when it comes out of beta testing – expected to happen later this summer – the number of complaints will surely grow substantially.
So far the banks with the most complaints filed against them include Capital One, with 33 complaints, Citigroup with 27, JPMorgan Chase with 24 and Bank of America with 15. American Express had just six complaints filed. All complaints show as having been responded to already except for one – by Bank of America.
Banks, despite protesting the idea of the database, are so far very receptive to consumer feedback, and Capital One spokesperson Tatiana Stead said in a statement that “we always welcome customer feedback – good and bad – as we’re always focused on continuous improvement and providing a great customer experience.”
Freedom of Information
It remains to be seen what the impact of this database will be, but the CFPB maintains that more information, easily available to consumers, will equal better customer service. On their website, in a blog post introducing the database, they offer the following: “No longer will consumer complaints only be known to the complainant, bank, regulator, and those who pursue this information through the Freedom of Information Act. Instead [. . .] consumer financial issues will be widely available to everyone: developers, policymakers, journalists, academics, industry, and you.”