Regulator Makes Thousands of Borrowers' Complaints Public; Lenders Don't Like It

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has published an enhanced consumer complaint database, which includes for the first time more 7,700 consumer accounts of problems borrowers are facing with financial companies concerning mortgages, bank accounts, credit cards, debt collection, and other issues.
The CFPB began accepting complaints as soon as it opened its doors nearly four years ago in July 2011.

In June 2012, the CFPB launched its Consumer Complaint Database, which is the nation’s largest public collection of consumer financial complaints. It includes basic, anonymous, individual-level information about the complaints received, including the date of submission, the consumer’s zip code, the relevant company, the product type, the issue the consumer is complaining about, and how the company handled the complaint.
However, the publication of complaints has drawn fresh opposition from financial institutions. The American Bankers Association, which has opposed the database since the bureau proposed it last year, said the database would be ‘‘a purveyor of at best unsubstantiated, and potentially false, information.’’
‘‘(The) public disclosure of unverified consumer complaint narratives doesn’t advance that goal and may threaten consumer privacy,’’ the ABA said in a statement.
The credit-reporting giant Experian, which has just over 21,000 complaints in the bureau’s overall database, argued the complaints would likely contain ‘‘inaccurate, misleading, or even derogatory or offensive statements.’’
Consumer advocates, though, support the bureau’s plan, praising the potential for unveiling new or emerging objectionable practices.
“The Bureau’s work improves as we hear directly from consumers,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “Every complaint tells us what people are facing in the financial marketplace. Publishing these consumer stories today is a historic milestone that we believe will lead to better outcomes for everyone.”
The CFPB says that complaints are listed in the database after the company responds or after they’ve had the complaint for 15 calendar days, whichever comes first. “We publish the consumer’s description of what happened if the consumer opts to share it and after taking steps to remove personal information. See our Scrubbing Standard for more details,the CFPB said.
Although the CFPB doesn’t verify all the facts alleged in these complaints, the agency says that “we take steps to confirm a commercial relationship. We may remove complaints if they don’t meet all of the publication criteria. Data is refreshed nightly.”
According to the Associated Press, the complaints include a woman from the Framingham, Mass., area who complained that TransUnion had mixed up her accounts with people with similar names, and a Central Massachusetts resident who said mortgage servicer Ocwen sent sensitive information to the wrong e-mail address.
“US Bank supposedly gave a Wisconsin parent’s young son a credit card with a $4,500 limit that he didn’t request, and a California couple reported finally catching up on mortgage payments to M&T bank, only to be told they were still a month in arrears,” the AP reports.
Here’s an example from the CFPB regarding a consumer’s experience with Wells Fargo:

A deposit in the amount of {$4900.00} was made to my account. It posted and then was immediately withdrawn. When I inquired, I was told by a woman in their fraud department that it was fraud and that they had frozen my account and would cancel it on XXXX. That deposit was from a relative in XXXX, Georgia to help me with buying a car. The freezing of my account has my funds in a tailspin because I am retired and receive my pensions by direct deposit.

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