CFPB could hide consumer complaints from public, advocates fear

by Maria Lamagna, Marketwatch

The federal watchdog that’s supposed to look out for consumers wants feedback on how it handles complaints about companies, and that has some consumer advocates worried.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau put out a Request for Information this week asking for public input on its consumer inquiry and complaint database.

As it stands now, consumers can submit complaints and questions to the CFPB on its website, through a referral from a federal or state agency, by telephone, mail, fax or email. The CFPB then publishes those complaints in a public database, where other consumers can read them, as well as see if they have been resolved.

In the RFI, the Bureau asked whether it should remove any of the six ways of taking complaints or add more, and whether third parties, such as lawyers or advocates, should continue to be allowed to submit complaints on a consumer’s behalf.

To consumer advocates, the Request for Information is just the latest evidence that the CFPB’s Director Mick Mulvaney will change the way the Bureau treats complaints, possibly making the CFPB’s database of complaints private and not visible to the public.

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