Service of Keeping a Lid on Grievances: Cripple the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Consumer Complaint Database

July 31st, 2017

Categories: Banking, Complaints, Watchdog

Photo: funusualsuspects.com

You may want to take a quick look at the Consumer Complaint Database maintained by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau [CFPB] before it joins rolled-back EPA regulations and watchdogs that once protected American consumers that are severely relaxed or gone. The goals are the same: Make it easier and cheaper to conduct [big] business, in this case, for banks.

You’d read on the website: “Each week we send thousands of consumers’ complaints about financial products and services to companies for response. Those complaints are published here after the company responds or after 15 days, whichever comes first. By adding their voice, consumers help improve the financial marketplace.”

Photo: consumerfinance.gov

Copy on the home page continues: “By submitting a complaint, consumers can be heard by financial companies, get help with their own issues, and help others avoid similar ones. Every complaint provides insight into problems that people are experiencing, helping us identify inappropriate practices and allowing us to stop them before they become major issues. The result: better outcomes for consumers, and a better financial marketplace for everyone.”

Yuka Hayashi addressed the issue in her Wall Street Journal article, “Battle Is On Over Government’s Version of Yelp for Banks -White House says government complaint database is unfair to banks, but consumers say it can spur action.”

Photo: techsgig.com

She wrote, “Responding to calls from industry groups, the Treasury Department in June recommended restricting access to the data to federal and state regulators.” She reported that since it was founded in 2011, consumers have filed 800,000 complaints the public can see, 1.2 million in all.

“The dispute highlights areas of friction as the Trump administration and other Republicans consider rolling back rules put in place after the financial crisis,” she wrote. “Those pushing for loosened rules say removing onerous and costly requirements would encourage more lending and economic growth. Opponents say such changes would bring back reckless behavior that caused the financial crisis.”

Photo: salon.com

A St. Paul social worker asked his student loan company to lower his monthly payments and after four to five tries, the temporary solution increased his monthly bill Hayashi reported. Two days after he posted a complaint on the CFPB complaint database, they sent him “several repayment options.” The social worker credits the CFPB.

Hayashi wrote that the Treasury Department felt the site “subjects companies to unwarranted reputational risk.” However, she continued, “Consumer advocates and some financial-services experts… say that the portal’s public nature is what gives it teeth.

What do banks think? “The bureau has failed to address the significant problems in the accuracy, integrity and usefulness of the information reported in the database,” Virginia O’Neill, senior vice president at the Center for Regulatory Compliance at the American Bankers Association told Hayashi.

Did you know you could post complaints about dealings gone south with a financial institution? Have you had a nasty banking issue? Do you believe that the complaints on the Consumer Complaint Database should be hidden from the public or allowed to be seen, as they have been for six years?

Addendum: In The Wall Street Journal’s August 7th issue, Andrew Ackerman wrote “A Republican-backed effort to overturn a rule making it easier for consumers to sue banks has hit a snag: the Senate.

“At issue is a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau rule approved in July barring fine-print requirements that consumers use arbitration to resolve disputes over financial services. The rule makes it easier for consumers to join class-action lawsuits against banks and credit-card companies. Though fiercely fought by the financial industry, it is set to go into effect in March.”

In addition: ” However, support in the Senate is uncertain. No Democrats are likely to back the effort, and Republicans, with their slim majority, can’t afford to lose more than two GOP votes. Several Republican senators have expressed reservations about voting to overturn the regulation, worried they may be portrayed as siding with banks and against consumers.”

This is something so easily lost among all the distractions for consumers to keep an eye out for.

Photo: survivalkit.com

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6 Responses to “Service of Keeping a Lid on Grievances: Cripple the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Consumer Complaint Database”

  1. Lucrezia Said:

    Banking with the same institution for over 60 years has its perks, one of them being favorable outcomes to various issues. Granted, they’re not the eye popping headline types, but such results translate into mutual good feelings, not to speak of my saving hundreds of dollars over time.

    Unfortunately, this does not erase the fact that banks are thieves who use depositor’s money for Nano cents on the dollar, yet charge crippling percentages on loans. Unless and until this process, along with other unfair practices are made to come to a halt ill feelings between banks vs. general public will continue.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Lucrezia,

    I, too, have been lucky with bank officers coming to my rescue and some had never before clapped eyes on me. There was one exception. It took a few months for the bank to admit that it had incorrectly read the amount of a $65.29 check. It deducted $6,529 from my account, throwing me into overdraft, bouncing checks, turning everything out of whack. The story is too complicated to go into here. It was long before the Consumer Complaint Database existed but would have been a good one for the site as I was a wreck during the months I had to wait for them to admit the error. A nudge would have helped a lot.

    In this economic climate, consumers will be the losers and big banking the winner, with zero inteest on money left in the bank, hefty fees where there are insufficient deposits and crippling interest rates on loans–to use the [perfect] word you did. Big sigh.

  3. Martha Takayama Said:

    I essentially am in favor of any and all services offered that are part of the Consumer Complaint Database maintained by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau [CFPB]. I am totally without sympathy or concerns for theoretical inconveniences to banks caused by having to account for their behavior, mistakes, misdemeanors, errors or scams. I am sickened by their ludicrous extended phone greetings at the end of an interminable wait expressing pleasure at being able to help me; their repetitious meaningless apologies for inconvenience caused me and their ceaseless requests for feedback. I am constantly concerned with the dictatorial tendencies of the current political regime which supports, at every possible moment, the restraining of access of information which long has been available to the public. We need to worry about consumers and our public. Banks have enough power to protect themselves.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Martha,

    So many businesses–not just banks though they are at the top of the list–waste your time with incessant messages and thank you’s and horrible music and requests to tape the conversation, mentions of the website to get information [so you don’t bother them on the phone]….and so you hopefully are unaware of how long you have been waiting to speak to a PERSON.

    We must hold our collective breath–literally and figuratively–as all sorts of protections that kept us from harm are rolled back. I’m thinking of the loosening of Environmental Protection Agency regulations making it more profitable for businesses but harder for the public to breath.

    Back to the Consumer Complaint Database, I think it’s important to be aware of even the small steps to quiet the public. We are being distracted by much louder noises that will impact us but add up these significant, if little known, legitimate opportunities to speak out and the country will take a bad turn for its small-fry citizens which is most of us.

  5. HB Said:

    A bedrock belief among the wealthy in this country that the public, net-net, is always going to be an impediment to “economic progress” (ie: the making of more money), therefore, everybody is going to be better off if its voices are silenced. Remember William H. Vanderbilt’s famous dictate, “The public be dammed…?”

    No banker in his right mind would welcome the opportunity to deal with one more consumer protection agency. Besides, most such agencies usually do little to benefit the public weal rather just add yet another layer of expanse to the process of wealth creation.

    A better way to go is to re-engineer the structure of that portion of financial system which benefits the public to be responsive to it as well. Just as a waiter in a restaurant understands that he gets a better tip if he gives good service, retail bankers should understand that their first loyalty must be to their depositors, not to their management, or their shareholders. A creditor who is responsible to his customer is not going to let him run up unmanageable balances on his credit cards just to make more money for his employer.

    Bring back the “glass walls,” like “Glass/Steagall, which segregated trust businesses from investment businesses, deposit taking businesses from market trading businesses, and so forth. You’ll soon solve a lot of the problems.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:

    HB,

    The Vanderbilt quote reminded me of Leona Helmsley’s “the little people.” Some share the wealth from the top of the heap and others chop at anyone or anything that they fear will prevent them from staying there or increasing the heap.

    The public is usually sluggish and accepting–until someone goes too far. That’s when citizens protest and eventually, after something tragic happens, those in power readjust and then there’s a period of relative peace and quiet.

    There should be safe havens for the public’s money. I agree that retail banking should step out of the fray to let other financial entities make giant bucks from risky investments. The retail banker would be focused on the customer and perhaps the need for oversight wouldn’t be as crucial for their business at least.

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