This month, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) is actively finalizing a policy that will allow consumers to voice their opinions on financial companies, and the products they offer — consumer complaints can be made publicly or maintained privately. Specifically, the CFPB’s policy will allow consumers, when submitting a complaint to the CFPB, to choose whether to share their experiences in the CFPB’s public-facing Consumer Complaint Database.
According to the CFPB’s Final Policy Statement, the goal of the policy is to “provid[e] consumers with timely and understandable information about consumer financial products and services, and improving the functioning, transparency and efficiency of markets for such products and services.”
It appears, however, that the CFPB is not simply focused on negative consumer experiences — which will likely monopolize the Consumer Complaint Database. Instead, and in conjunction with the Consumer Complaint Database, the CFPB is seeking public input on ways to highlight positive consumer experiences.
In discussing the CFPB’s policy, CFPB Director Richard Cordray stated, “Consumer narratives shed light on the full consumer perspective behind a complaint…[n]arratives 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 takeaway: It appears that the CFPB continues to focus its attention on making consumer experiences with financial companies as transparent as possible. Financial companies understandably have concerns that these postings will include unfounded or one-sided allegations without any opportunity for them to respond in a meaningful and fair way.