The Office of Inspector General (OIG) published a report on June 3, 2019, reviewing how the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB or Bureau) shares consumer complaint data internally and generally found that the CFPB’s Office of Consumer Response is effective at this task. The CFPB shares consumer complaint data through certain analytical tools (see the insideARM Perspective below for more information), which the Bureau’s divisions use to inform their work.

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While the report gives a positive review of the Bureau’s complaint sharing efforts, one area of concern noted by the OIG is protecting sensitive consumer data while sharing these complaints. When consumers file CFPB complaints, they often include personal and sensitive information. According to the report’s summary, “Consumer Response inconsistently approved access to two complaint-sharing tools and did not assess whether users needed continued access to one tool or to network drive folders containing complaint reports.”

Consumer Response provides training to users of this tool. Most of this training is dome with the Division of Supervision, Enforcement and Fair Lending because this group has the largest amount of users, but the report states that more training for other users would be beneficial.

The two primary recommendations from the report were to (1) enhance complaint-sharing efforts since the information is beneficial to the CFPB’s work, but also (2) strengthen access controls for sensitive data. Specific recommendations regarding the latter include evaluating access privileges of current users, ensuring that users only have access to folders needed to perform their role, and updating processes and procedures to reflect these changes.

The report notes that Consumer Response began taking action to address these recommendations.

insideARM Perspective

This report gives a behind-the-curtain glimpse at the analytical tools used by the CFPB when it comes to consumer complaints. The report notes three primary tools used by Consumer Response and other divisions at the CFPB: Complaint Analytics, Advanced Analytics, and complaint reports. Here is a graphic from the report states what each tool does.

2019-07-11 CFPB OIG Report re complaint sharing graphic

In-depth descriptions of these analytical tools begin on page 9 of the report for those interested in learning more.  


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