A business group headed by former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty has launched a public relations campaign against the CFPB’s open access complaints database. A new proposal from the agency to include consumer narratives appears to be the impetus for the action.

The Financial Services Roundtable, a DC-based lobbying group for the financial services industry, made a big splash Monday as it rolled out its multi-media campaign. Pawlenty joined the group two years ago, leaving the Mitt Romney 2012 Presidential election campaign in its waning days. He currently serves as the FSR’s CEO.

The group Monday announced that it was fighting a recent proposal from the CFPB to feature consumer-written narratives in its complaints database explaining why the consumer was logging the complaints.

“The CFPB’s plan will feature only one side of the story, and such one-sided accounts will not advance the CFPB’s mission of better informing and helping consumers,” said Pawlenty. “The site may misinform consumers by posting unverified, anonymous and potentially inaccurate complaints about financial services companies on a government website.”

When consumers submit a complaint to the CFPB, they fill in information such as who they are, who the complaint is against, when it occurred, and what issues were relevant based on a preset list of options. They are also given a text box to describe what happened and can attach documents to the complaint. When the Bureau forwards the complaint to the company, the narrative text and documents (if any) are provided.

But that narrative text does not appear in the CFPB’s public complaints database. Under the new proposal — still open for public comment — that would change.

FSR has launched a web portal at CFPBRumors.com to get its message out. The group also said it plans on running advertisements in DC Metro stations and will make a “social media ad buy.”

In addition to the new proposal, the FSR takes issue with the broader practice of publishing consumer complaints at all. “Government websites should be reserved for facts,” the group said in a statement, arguing that anything unverified was likely false.

But the FSR’s materials so far appear to be as rife with misinformation as they purport the CFPB’s database to be. The group claims that companies named in complaints are given little opportunity to respond, when in fact, the CFPB’s proposal specifically allows for companies to create their own narrative to be posted in the public database. FSR also claims that the CFPB wants to implement the new narratives on September 22, when that is actually the extended closing date for the public comment period.

The CFPB noted some of these inconsistencies in a statement it provided to government-focused publication Government Executive: “Under the proposed policy, the CFPB would only publish a consumer’s complaint narrative if the consumer provided their informed consent to do so, which they could withdraw at any time. Companies would be able to publish their own response, which would appear next to the consumer’s complaint narrative.”

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