The CFPB May Limit Consumer Access to Bank Complaints
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau may soon prohibit consumers from accessing the complaint database, the log of complaints that consumers have sent to the Bureau. The Wall Street Journal reports that Mick Mulvaney, acting director of the CFPB, wants to maintain the database, but does not want the public to have access.
During a banking conference Tuesday, Mulvaney pointed to a copy of the 2010 Dodd-Frank law and said, “I don’t see anything in here that says I have to run a Yelp for financial services sponsored by the federal government.” The CFPB was created as a result of that law.
While Mulvaney’s comment may have been in jest, there are some substantial reasons for potentially halting public access to complaint records. With the current complaint setup, the Bureau verifies the consumer has done business with the company, but they do not check the nature of that relationship. Thus, the complaints are somewhat unreliable and could cast a negative, one-sided view of the company.
On the other hand, many consumer advocates say the general public has a right to that information. It is much like the service the Better Business Bureau provides, allowing consumers to research institutions before doing business with them.
Mulvaney said the Bureau would still collect complaints from consumers online or by phone, even if the database was kept private. This information can be used to build a case against potentially harmful business practices, such as the recent $1 billion fine against Wells Fargo.
The fine against Wells Fargo marked a record-high for the Bureau, one of many changes that have occurred since Mulvaney took control. The acting director recently changed the official name of the organization to the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection.