The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau‘s complaint database gets the spotlight from The Wall Street Journal this morning. The article profiles one consumer who filed a complaint about unknown changes to her student loan terms only to hear back from the servicing company within two days, restoring the original terms of her loan.
If only all complaints were that straightforward.
The article does lay out some of the opposing viewpoints on the CFPB’s database, namely that complaints are largely unverified, that the database infringes on consumers’ privacy, and “exemplifies government overreach.” While the CFPB admits it does not verify the veracity of complaints, it does check documentation and ensure that consumers have a relationship with the company they are complaining about.
The number of complaints handled by the CFPB dwarfs the number of complaints handled by other government agencies, and the growing number of complaints have led to companies having to hire staff to handle the complaint rebuttal and resolution processes.
It is interesting because the article makes the database out to be a tremendous business opportunity for companies to connect with unsatisfied customers. Navient, the student loan company referenced in the anecdote, says it reviews the complaints “to leverage their feedback to improve and enhance our service…and to make recommendations to policy makers on legislative and regulatory changes,” a spokeswoman said.
What the article does not say is that consumers can use the database to cause many problems for companies, including collection agencies.