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CFPB Opens Consumer Complaint Database to the Public

March 27, 2013

WASHINGTON — The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Thursday launched the nation’s largest public database of federal consumer financial complaints, opening up to the public more than 90,000 individual complaints related to financial products and services.

The launch expands the Consumer Complaint Database significantly from about 19,000 credit card complaints to more than 90,000 complaints on mortgages, student loans, bank accounts and services, other consumer loans and credit cards.

“By sharing these complaints with the public, we are creating greater transparency in consumer financial products and services,” CFPB Director Richard Cordray said at a field hearing in Des Moines, Iowa, to announce the expansion of the bureau’s complaint database. “The database is good for consumers and it is also good for honest businesses. We believe the marketplace of ideas can do great things with this data.”

The database allows the public to see what consumers complained about and why, as well as how and when the company in question responds. It has more than one million data points, covering approximately 450 companies. It includes the type of complaint, the date of submission, the consumer’s ZIP code, and the company that the complaint concerns.

The database also includes information about the actions taken on a complaint by those companies — whether the company’s response was timely, how the company responded, and whether the consumer disputed the company’s response. A consumer’s identity and other personal information are not included in the data.

The database allows users to easily track, sort, search and download information. The data also is available via API (application programming interface), which allows developers to build applications, conduct analyses and perform research. Consumers can build their own visualizations, charts and graphs. The data also can be embedded on other websites and shared through social media.

The live database updates daily. So, as the CFPB handles more complaints, more will be added. When the CFPB accepts consumer complaints about other financial products and services, they will be put on the database after a period of time. Complaints are listed in the database only after the company responds to the complaint or after they have had the complaint for 15 days, whichever comes first.

While the allegations in the complaint are not verified, a commercial relationship between the consumer and the company is substantiated before the complaint is added to the database.

Consumers are given the option to review and dispute company responses. The CFPB then reviews that feedback. The CFPB also indicated it will use the database along with other information, such as the timeliness of the company’s response, in a variety of ways, including aiding the bureau to prioritize complaints for investigation.

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