The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau yesterday issued a compliance bulletin aimed at ensuring that consumers have the right and opportunity to post honest reviews about financial products and services that accurately reflect their opinions and experiences. The bulletin warns companies in the financial services industry that they may be found guilty of an Unfair and Deceptive Act or Practice in violation of the Consumer Financial Protection Act if they seek to suppress or silence consumers from posting online reviews.
A copy of the compliance bulletin can be accessed by clicking here.
“In America, no corporation should be able to silence a customer from posting an honest review online,” said CFPB Director Rohit Chopra, in a statement. “Corporate disinformation campaigns that suppress legitimate reviews or manufacture fake reviews are not only a threat to free speech and fair competition, they are also illegal.”
Companies were warned to stay away from including clauses in contracts with consumers that prohibit them from posting online reviews, from publishing fake reviews, and from limiting the posting of negative reviews or manipulating reviews to trick or confuse consumers.
Reviews can be an important factor when shopping for financial services products and can be used to share stories about legitimate interactions with companies in any industry. In the bulletin, the CFPB referenced research that indicates a one-star increase in the ratings on yelp.com for restaurants led to an increase in revenue of as much as 9%.
But, as companies in the accounts receivable management industry have been dealing with since the CFPB launched its complaint portal, what consumers post online is not always 100% accurate and rarely gives the company the opportunity to present its side of the situation.