credit & debt

Consumers Will Keep Access to Complaint Database

An online collection of consumer beefs about financial services will remain publicly accessible.

After deliberating since early 2018, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has announced that its online collection of consumer complaints about financial services will remain publicly accessible. In response to claims from banks and other financial companies that the complaints are unverified and unreliable, the CFPB has added disclosures, such as one that notes the complaints don’t represent a statistical sample of consumer experience.

Even with those caveats, the database can be a valuable tool. You can use the database to check up on a bank, lender or other financial firm before you do business with it. If you’ve filed a grievance with a credit-reporting bureau or financial firm and are dissatisfied with its response, you can submit your complaint at cfpb.gov. The CFPB will forward it to the company in question, and most reply within 15 days. On the same web page, you’ll find a link to the database of published complaints, which allows you to search by date, company name and key words.

If you’re preparing to complain directly to a company and the database shows that other customers are having issues similar to your own, mention it when you make contact—it may gain you leverage, says Ed Mierzwinski, of the U.S. Public Interest Research Group.

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