Consumers who use the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's (CFPB) complaint database must opt in to have their complaint narrative made public, under the revised and final rules introduced this week.
Consumers who file a complaint with the CFPB use a special Web form that collects basic information, including the date of submission, the consumer's ZIP code, the relevant company, the product type, the issue the consumer is complaining about and how the company handled the complaint. In addition, the Web form includes a narrative section where the consumer can provide details about what occurred.
Under the final rules, the CFPB will not publish that narrative unless the consumer consents by way of a check box on the Web form. What's more, if a consumer checks the box and consents, his narrative will be ‘scrubbed’ of all sensitive information before it is made public.
In addition, if a consumer decides that he doesn't want his comments to be public anymore, he can also opt out and his comments will no longer be displayed on the CFPB's website.
Sometimes banks and other financial institutions ask consumers to remove complaints from public forums after their problem has been successfully resolved.
Perhaps the biggest change, however, is that financial organizations can now publish a public response to each consumer complaint. As per a CFPB press release, companies will be given the option to select from a set list of ‘structured response options’ as a public-facing response to address a consumer complaint.
Companies will be under no obligation to offer a public response, and they have 180 days after the consumer complaint is routed to them to select the optional, public response.
It is unclear from the CFPB's release who would develop the set list of ‘structured response options’ and how many options will be available.
In addition, consumers who submit complaints must show that they have a confirmed relationship with the financial institution they are complaining about.
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