CFPB Publishes 3 Millionth Complaint in Consumer Complaint Database

ACA International continues to advocate for better contextualization of complaints in the CFPB’s database.

11/03/2022 1:25 P.M.

2.5 minute read

Last week, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau published its 3 millionth complaint on its Consumer Complaint Database, according to a press release from the bureau.

“Though many federal agencies accept complaints, too often those complaints are hidden from public view,” the bureau stated in its press release. “By making complaint data publicly available, we increase transparency and create accountability to the public by making clear the problems consumers face.”

For 10 years, the bureau has collected, monitored and responded to consumer complaints, and through the complaint process, gives companies an opportunity to respond to issues consumers may be experiencing.

However, the bureau stated, “Our work—and the impact of consumer complaints—does not end once a company responds. We both publish complaints and use complaints as an essential component of how we prioritize our actions and identify problems in the marketplace.”

Here are a few ways the CFPB says consumer voices, including through the complaint database process, shape its actions:

  • Improving the credit reporting system.
  • Clarifying what debts can be collected.
  • Taking a close look at medical billing errors.
  • Launching an inquiry into junk fees.

ACA’s Take

Credit reporting, medical debt and fees inquiries are among the focuses of ACA’s advocacy with the bureau given its actions—including advisory opinions, inquiries—in these areas under the leadership of Director Rohit Chopra.

ACA has urged the bureau to seek feedback from all stakeholders on its advisory opinions and guidance, conduct the proper rulemaking processes and plans to continue engagement with the CFPB to resolve unintended compliance complexities associated with its recent reports, especially medical billing and credit reporting.

As it uses complaint data on those topics, ACA also continues to advocate with the CFPB to ensure accurate data about the industry is documented in the complaint database used for its reports by providing context to the complaints. The bureau needs sound verification processes as well as accurate reporting that reflects the difference between consumer inquiries and actual allegations of harm.

ACA’s longstanding view on the consumer complaint database is for the bureau to a minimum, develop and implement fair and transparent metrics to normalize the complaint data it makes publicly available on the database, narrow the definition of “complaint” so that it covers only alleged conduct that would be unlawful if true, and to consistently use prominent disclaimers that appropriately describe the limitations of published complaint data.

Of note in the latest WebRecon report, consumer complaints filed with the CFPB decreased 11.1% from 4,984 in August to 4,479 in September.

There were 6,022 complaints in September 2021 compared to the 4,479 complaints in September this year—a 25.6% decrease.

Agencies responses to complaints at a timely rate have consistently been at a high rate of approximately 97%.

Read the CFPB’s full press release here.

If you have executive leadership updates or other member news to share with ACA, contact our communications department at [email protected]. View our publications page for more information and our news submission guidelines here.

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