Filing complaints against financial institutions just got a whole lot easier for Newark, N.J. residents, thanks to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau new partnership with the city of Newark to provide a complaint filing resource for residents.
Using the city’s non-emergency 4311 hotline, which is typically used by Newark residents to access local city services, consumers can call the hotline with complaints or questions about consumer financial products and services.
According to Michelle Muth Person, a CFPB spokesperson, Newark residents who call Newark’s 4311 with questions or complaints will be directly connected to the CFPB’s Consumer Response call center.
“Newark has a robust 4311 line and expressed interest in pursuing this partnership,” Muth Person said. “We just launched this program and we will evaluate how Newark residents use it.”
Since the CFPB began accepting complaints about credit cards on July 21, 2011, the Bureau has received more than 133,000 consumer complaints about consumer financial products and services — nationwide. The bureau began handling mortgage complaints on December 1, 2011; and it began accepting complaints about bank accounts and services, private student loans, and other consumer loans on March 1, 2012.
“We have a ‘snapshot’ report from October 2012 that highlights the kinds of complaints that we have received from consumers across the country about student loans, credit cards, bank accounts, mortgages and other financial products,” Muth Person said. An upcoming ‘snapshot’ from the new Newark partnership program will be a key factor in deciding to rollout the program in other urban areas.
While this is the first instance in which the CFPB has initiated a consumer complaint program directly with a metropolitan area, it is not the first time the CFPB has connected with city leaders in their efforts. In November 2012 the city of Chicago and the CFPB entered into an information-sharing agreement. This agreement allows the two entities to share information about fraudulent and predatory practices by financial institutions that affect Chicagoans.
In a statement CFPB Director Richard Cordray said, “The CFPB’s job is to help consumers navigate the often confusing financial marketplace and to hold financial institutions accountable. Through this coordination, we will be able to reach and to help consumers who may not have found us otherwise.”
“The Newark program is a pilot program and they are our first partner in this effort to serve consumers by building on existing municipal infrastructure,” Muth Person said. “We are actively exploring other possibilities.”
While Newark residents can use the 4311 number to issue complaints, they also can continue to use CFPB’s online complaint system or other existing methods for submitting complaints to the federal regulator.