The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has asked for comments on its consumer complaint and inquiry handling processes. The public is being asked to suggest best practices for responding to complaints and providing information to help consumers make decisions.
The request for information (RFI) also asks if criteria is needed to differentiate consumer complaints from consumer inquiries. The comment period closes on July 16. The request for information is the final in a series of RFIs described as seeking evidence to ensure the Bureau is properly carrying out its duties.
To date, the CFPB has received more than 1.5 million consumer complaints about financial products or services. The Bureau accepts complaints through its website; by referral from the White House, congressional offices, federal agencies, and state agencies; and by telephone, mail, email, and fax. The Bureau routes complaints directly to financial companies and works with them to get consumers a timely response from the company, generally within 15 days.
Consumer requests for information about financial products or services, the status of a complaint, or an action taken by the CFPB, are typically proffered by telephone. When consumers call with an inquiry, a Bureau representative collects basic information about the consumer, listens to the consumer describe their situation and question, and provides educational information about financial products and services.
The CFPB is asking whether it should:
- require consumers to classify their submission as a complaint or inquiry;
- develop a process for companies to reclassify consumers’ submissions;
- add or discontinue any channels for accepting comments or inquiries;
- expand, limit, or maintain the ability of authorized third parties to submit complaints;
- develop a process for companies to provide timely responses to consumer inquires sent to them by the Bureau; and
- publish data about consumer inquiries.
Consumer complaint reporting. The Bureau previously asked for information on the Bureau’s consumer complaint analysis and reporting practices. The comment period for consideration of changes to those practices expires on June 4, 2018.
According to the earlier RFI, the Dodd-Frank Act assigns the Bureau several specific consumer complaint-related tasks. In fact, “collecting, investigating, and responding to consumer complaints” is one of the Bureau’s primary functions. The Bureau is directed to make an annual report to Congress, and it publishes monthly and special reports on consumer complaint trends. It also maintains a public consumer complaint database.
The Bureau specifically wants comments on four broad areas:
- consumer complaint reporting frequency;
- consumer complaint reporting content;
- consumer complaint reporting methodology; and
- consumer complaint information publication.