CFPB Proposes Public Disclosure of Consumer Complaint Narratives

16 July 2014 Consumer Class Defense Counsel Blog

Will the CFPB start disclosing consumers’ gripes and rants? Would it provide endless hours of salacious reading, like complaints posted on popular online review sites like Yelp and Angie’s List? Could it become a platform for publicizing unverified or, in worst cases, false and defamatory allegations which could harm compliant and conscientious businesses?

We may find out soon, as the CFPB recently published a notice of proposed policy statement detailing such plans.

The CFPB has been soliciting and compiling complaint data from consumers for a few years, but it previously disclosed only aggregated and non-narrative information from those complaints. Under the proposal, the CFPB’s public database would be expanded to contain narrative complaints of consumers who “opt-in” to make their stories public. The CFPB promises to take “all reasonable steps” to remove personal identifying information before it is publicly accessible. Finally, rather than verifying consumers’ complaints before publication, the CFPB proposes to permit companies to publish their own responses and “let the public decide”.

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