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CFPB unveils controversial narrative complaint database

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Thursday rolled out a controversial change to its complaint database by publishing narrative accounts of more than 7,700 complaints lodged by consumers against financial companies.

Consumers will now be able to report and read much more detailed accounts of problems with lenders and servicers over mortgages, credit cards and bank accounts.

Previously, consumers could see only general information about complaints, and the mortgage industry came out strongly against the change this spring, when it was announced the CFPB. 

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) argued that the format would provide a government-sanctioned platform for frivolous and misleading complaints.

“MBA is disappointed that the CFPB seems not to have listened to the myriad of important legal and other concerns we, along with a number of others, have voiced about the posting of unverified consumer narratives to the bureau’s complaint database,” David Stevens, MBA’s president and chief executive officer, told Scotsman Guide News in March. He noted that a high percentage of complaints to the CFPB turn out to be false.

Database provides specific gripes 

In one of the newly published complaints from April 2015, a consumer reported receiving harassing calls on a mortgage that had been paid. In another, a consumer alleged that a non-bank lender had been charging unauthorized fees.

Under the new format, the CFPB removes information that would identify the person who lodged the complaint, and gives companies 60 days to respond before publishing a narrative. The database contains several filtering and search options. Overwhelmingly, company responses appear as "Company disputes the facts presented in the complaint," or "Company chooses not to provide a public response." 

The bureau also asked for public comment on how to make the database more user-friendly. 


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