July 17, 2014

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is proposing a new policy that would empower consumers to publicly voice their complaints about consumer financial products and services.

When consumers submit a complaint to the CFPB, they would have the option to share their account of what happened in the CFPB's public-facing Consumer Complaint Database. Publishing consumer narratives would provide important context to the complaint, help the public to detect specific trends in the market, aid consumer decision-making, and drive improved consumer service.

"The consumer experience shared in the narrative is the heart and soul of the complaint," said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. "By publicly voicing their complaint, consumers can stand up for themselves and others who have experienced the same problem. There is power in their stories, and that power can be put in service to strengthen the foundation for consumers, responsible providers, and our economy as a whole."

The CFPB began accepting complaints as soon as it opened its doors three years ago in July 2011. It currently accepts complaints on many consumer financial products, including credit cards, mortgages, bank accounts, private student loans, vehicle and other consumer loans, credit reporting, money transfers, debt collection, and payday loans.

When consumers submit a complaint to the Bureau, they fill in information such as who they are, who the complaint is against, and when it occurred. They are also given a text box to describe what happened and can attach documents to the complaint. The Bureau forwards the complaint to the company, allows the company to respond, gives the consumer a tracking number, and keeps the consumer updated on its status. To date, the Bureau has handled more than 400,000 complaints.

View the proposed policy in full.