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CFPB Gives Unhappy Customers A Megaphone

Have a complaint about a financial company? The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau now offers you the opportunity to shout it from the rooftops (virtually, of course).

The CFPB announced on Thursday (March 19) that it is finalizing a policy — officially named the Consumer Complaint Narrative Policy — to enable consumers to publicly express complaints about consumer financial products and services.

Under the new policy, the existing method for a consumer to submit a complaint to the CFPB will include the option to share details of the personal experience that led to it in the CFPB’s public-facing Consumer Complaint Database. On the more optimistic side, the CFPB is also publishing a Request for Information that seeks ideas from the public as to how the organization might highlight positive consumer experiences (a basic example given in the CFPB’s report is “receiving consumer compliments”).

“Consumer narratives shed light on the full consumer perspective behind a complaint,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “Narratives humanize the problems consumers face in the marketplace. Today’s policy will serve to empower consumers by helping them make informed decisions and helping track trends in the consumer financial market.”

The final version of the Consumer Complaint Narrative Policy outlines specific procedures and safeguards that the CFPB is implementing related to publishing consumer complaints in its database. When consumers submit a complaint to the CFPB, they are required to share specific information like their identity, who the complaint is against, and when the inciting incident occurred. A space is also provided for unsatisfied financial consumers to describe their related experiences in their own words; additionally, they are given the option to attach documents to complaints.

The CFPB will pass the complaint along to the appropriate company for response and give the consumer a tracking number so they can be kept in the loop on the process.

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