You have probably heard about the Dodd-Frank Act. It aims to regulate speculative and unfair practices on the parts of financial institutions. Most Congressional Republicans are out to kill it. Many Democrats want it strengthened. Part of that act is the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). How silly! Complaints against lenders? Why on earth would we big, bullying consumers need protection from those sweet little-bitty banks like JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America and Citibank?
When financial consumer advocate and Harvard Law Professor Elizabeth Warren advocated before Congress for the creation of the CFPB she was raked over the coals by the free market boys (and girls?). It soon became clear that if and when the bureau was created, she had a Klondike Bar’s chance in a microwave of being approved for the post of director. That position eventually went to Richard Cordray, the former attorney general of Ohio, a well-known consumer protection guy. President Barack Obama had to appoint Cordray with a recess appointment to avoid the free-market contingent in the House. Warren went back to Massachusetts to run for the U.S. Senate.
It looks like Cordray is taking this job seriously. The CFPB made a formal announcement today that it has set up a web site that allows
consumers to post grievances against companies that provide credit cards, mortgages and student loans. The grievances are posted in the form of databases.
Since the bureau opened for business last July, it has received 45,000 grievances – 17,000 about credit cards alone – through June 1, 2012.
“By making our data publicly available, initially in the area of credit cards, we hope to improve the transparency and efficiency of this essential consumer market,” Cordray said in a statement. ‘‘Each and every time we hear from American consumers about their troublesome transactions with financial products, it gives us important insight.”
The public database includes complaints made since June1. Working with the credit card issuers, the CFPB created a number of response categories that show how each complaint has been dealt with and how quickly.
For each category, companies can respond to a consumer in one of four ways. Once the complaint is routed to a company, it has 15 days to respond and 60 days to resolve the complaint. Consumers should expect to receive a refund, an explanation, a correction, a change in account terms, or simply have the case closed.
If you have a complaint against a bank, mortgage lender, student loan provider, or credit card issuer, take it to http://www.consumerfinance.gov/complaintdatabase.
For the time being, you will also be able to see the recent record concerning credit card complaints. The other categories should come online by the end of the year.