Tuesday, March 24, 2015

CFPB Issues Notice of Final Policy Statement Regarding its Disclosure of Consumer Complaint Narratives

The CFPB has issued its notice of final policy to disclose publicly consumer complaint narratives in its Consumer Complaint Database.  The CFPB intends to provide consumers who submit their complaints directly to the CFPB the opportunity to include consumer complaint narratives in the Consumer Complaint Database. These narratives will be publicly available. 

Consumer Narratives:

1.        Requires consumers to opt in.  The CFPB will not publish the narrative unless the consumer affirmatively checks a consent box within the complaint portal.


2.       Removes all identifying information.  Only narratives that have been scrubbed for personal information will be made available. According to the CFPB, all narratives will be scrubbed to protect privacy and identifying information will be removed, including: (a) personal information, including name, age, legal representation, physical characteristics or personal descriptors, detailed military/veteran information and medical conditions; (b) location and contact information; (c) date and time information; and (d) personal identifying numbers (social security numbers, account numbers).


3.       Meets Certain Publication Criteria.  The CFPB has stated that it will not publish a narrative unless the complaint has been submitted through the CFPB portal, is not a duplicate submission, and the consumer’s relationship with the financial institution complained of has been confirmed.  It is important to note that the CFPB has not made any provision for verifying the veracity of the complaint prior to publication.

According to the final policy statement, the CFPB will not publish any narratives for at least 90 days.  

Company Public Facing Responses:

The CFPB intends to allow companies the opportunity to respond to the substance of the complaints; however taking into account the feedback received as to the increased cost and legal risk inherent with preparing a response, the CFPB intends to add a finite list of structured company responses.  The responding company will then be given an opportunity to recommend to the CFPB which option, if any, it would like included as a public response to address the substance of the consumer’s complaint.  There is no obligation to respond. 

Timing of Publication:

The CFPB intends to disclose consumer narratives when the company provides its public facing response, but no later than 60 days after the complaint is routed to the company.  The intention of the disclosure timing is to insure the complaint and response can be disclosed at the same time.

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