The Financial Services Roundtable has accused the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau of possibly spreading inaccurate information through its consumer complaint database.
Last month, the CFPB proposed an expansion of its complaint collection process to include a larger “consumer narrative” element. Industry pushback was swift and critical, focusing on the harm unsubstantiated claims may inflict on banks.
The FSR said it will launch advertising in Washington, D.C., as well as a social media campaign, targeting “the problems that the CFPB’s rushed plan poses to consumers.”
The FSR also launched a website challenging the publication of “unverified complaints” from anonymous sources in a database which gives short shrift to companies named in a complaint.
“The CFPB’s plan will feature only one side of the story, and such one-sided accounts will not advance the CFPB’s mission of better informing and helping consumers,” said Tim Pawlenty, FSR President and CEO, in a press release.
The CFPB said it does take steps to verify that a consumer who files a complaint actually has an account at the company named in the complaint. The bureau defended the removal of personal information from complaints to protect consumers’ identities.
Inclusion of a consumer narrative would enhance the database by providing context to the complaint and spotlighting specific trends, the bureau said. Currently, consumers are limited to 3,900 characters to describe a complaint when they file it. The proposed change does not specify a new character limit, leading many to assume it will be open-ended.
The CFPB describes the augmented data as “unstructured consumer complaint narrative data. Inviting such narratives will both encourage reticent consumers to file more specific complaints and reveal traits and issues common across the industry which may lead to complaints,” the bureau said.
The proposal is currently in the required 30-day comment period, although the CFPB plans to extend the deadline for comments to Sept. 22, according to the American Banker.