Bill Would Require CFPB To Verify Consumer Complaints

A bill recently introduced in the House of Representatives by Republican Congressman Matt Salmon, R-Ariz., would impose new requirements on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) with regard to how the bureau handles complaints submitted to its consumer complaint database.

The bill, the “CFPB Data Accountability Act ” (H.R.5413), would require that consumer complaint information be presented on the CFPB’s website in an aggregated format to make it more “searchable” by users.

If approved, the bill would also require the bureau to verify the information in each complaint to ensure that it is valid. Currently, the bureau only verifies that the consumer submitting the complaint has a business relationship with the institution being complained about – it does not necessarily verify the specifics contained in each complaint.

The bill would also require the CFPB to provide “statistics on how many consumer complaints the bureau receives with respect to the particular consumer financial product or service compared to the total number of consumers making use of such consumer financial product or service.” It would be required to display that information next to each individual complaint in order to provide users with some context as to how often a particular consumer financial product or service is complained about.

The bill would also require the bureau to, in effect, certify the “quality, objectivity, utility and integrity of information” it provides via the database, in keeping with Office of Management and Budget guidelines.

“Under current law, the CFPB launched a consumer complaint database that serves as a mechanism to inform the consumer about potentially troublesome institutions,” Rep. Salmon says in a recent statement. “We owe it to the American people to make this information as accurate and as clear as possible.

“Unfortunately, the current database is disorganized and does little to provide the American people with important information to inform their decision-making,” he adds. “My bill would improve the current database by requiring the CFPB to verify the facts of each complaint and present this information in an aggregated format so that consumers have better access to CFPB-collected data and can make better decisions about their financial futures.”

The bill is now before the House Committee on Financial Services.


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