First CFPB Ombudsman Report Emphasizes Complaint Process

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The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) Ombudsman office filed its first full report last Thursday, detailing its activity over first 10 months of its existence. The report included data on inquiries it has received from consumers and businesses.

According to the report, the Ombudsman charge is to “advocate for a fair process as between consumers, the providers of consumer financial products and services, and the CFPB.” Businesses and consumers report any issues they have with the CFPB to its Ombudsman, Wendy Kamenshine.

Kamenshine’s office noted that it received 775 inquiries between December 2011, when it came online, and September 30, 2012, the close of its first fiscal year in operation. Over 80 percent of those inquiries were from consumers who reached the Ombudsman with questions or issues regarding the processes, services, products, or entities under the CFPB’s jurisdiction. The remainder came from business people, third parties on behalf of businesses, job applicants, the media, and internal CFPB staff.

The most common issue raised in inquiries was related to transparency within the Consumer Response process, the CFPB’s system for collecting and resolving consumer complaints against financial institutions. Consumer Response issues not related to transparency also made up a large percentage of Ombudsman inquiries.

As such, the Ombudsman laid out steps and recommendations it will be taking in the coming year related to consumer complaints. The Ombudsman recommended that the CFPB: provide more information to the public on the consumer complaint process to answer these and other questions through multiple means of communication; share what the Bureau can and cannot do to assist consumers; and highlight which companies currently can accept a consumer complaint from the CFPB.

 

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