At a scheduled field hearing in Des Moines, Iowa Thursday, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Director Richard Cordray announced the expansion of its Consumer Complaint Database and the release to the public of roughly all complaint data it has collected through its Consumer Response complaint system.
Some in the ARM industry, including us here at insideARM.com, thought that the CFPB might be announcing that Consumer Response was being expanded to include complaints about debt collection and/or payday loans. The system currently does not accept complaints about either. But there was no mention of debt collection or payday loan complaints at the hearing or in the Bureau’s press release.
Still, the data made public yesterday is a trove of information on complaints about virtually every financial product available to consumers. There are 91,000 or so separate complaint records, with mortgage products dominating the roster.
Thursday’s release was not a static one; the data available at www.consumerfinance.gov/complaintdatabase/ will be updated daily to include new complaints, status of company resolutions, and consumer responses to the resolutions. As a reminder, Consumer Response sends individual complaints to companies named and gives the businesses an opportunity to resolve the complaint with the consumer. The consumer then has an option to dispute or approve of the resolution.
The database provides a snapshot of what the ARM industry will be facing later this year when debt collection complaints are included. It also serves to show the monumental task the CFPB is facing when dealing with debt collection complaints.
For example, in the 91,000 complaints available right now, there are about 450 different companies, nearly all of them lenders and mortgage providers. When insideARM.com examined the debt collection complaint data from the FTC, there were 1,833 unique firms named…in one month alone. The task of merely normalizing company names was extremely time consuming.
So we’ll have to see what the data looks like once debt collection complaints are added.
For now, go check out the data. It really is interesting and the CFPB is actively encouraging anyone to play with the numbers and create visual representations of the data.