Con­sumer bureau makes com­plaints against banks public

The agency posts a data­base of 7,700 griev­ances filed by dis­grun­tled cus­tomers.

Los Angeles Times - - COMPANY TOWN - As­so­ci­ated press

The Con­sumer Fi­nan­cial Pro­tec­tion Bureau re­leased thou­sands of com­plaints Thurs­day from dis­grun­tled cus­tomers of banks, credit card com­pa­nies and other providers of f inan­cial ser­vices.

The con­sumer bureau posted a data­base of the griev­ances on its web­site over ve­he­ment protests from the f inan­cial in­dus­try. The data­base con­tains 7,700 com­plaints f iled online by peo­ple who agreed to air their com­plaints pub­licly.

The bureau of­fers a dis­claimer that it does not in­ves­ti­gate the sub­stance of the com­plaints be­fore post­ing them. It hopes that the com­pi­la­tion of the griev­ances will point both it and the gen­eral public to the per­sonal f inan­cial trou­ble spots of the day.

The tar­gets of the com­plaints vary widely, and in­clude small debt- col­lec­tion com­pa­nies as well as Wall Street giants. Among the com­plaints: U. S. Bank sup­pos­edly gave a Wis­con­sin par­ent’s young son a credit card with a $ 4,500 limit that he didn’t re­quest, and a Cali- for­nia cou­ple re­ported f in­ally catch­ing up on mort­gage pay­ments to M& T bank, only to be told that they were still a month in ar­rears.

The data­base rep­re­sents a small frac­tion of the 627,000 to­tal com­plaints the Con­sumer Fi­nan­cial Pro­tec­tion Bureau has re­ceived in the four years it has been op­er­at­ing. The bureau be­gan of­fer­ing the op­tion of al­low­ing peo­ple to pub­licly share their com­plaints in March.

“We be­lieve the dis­clo­sure of this in­for­ma­tion is one of the best tools gov­ern­ment agen­cies can use to im­prove the op­er­a­tion of the mar­ket­place,” said Richard Cor­dray, the bureau’s di­rec­tor.

The in­di­vid­ual griev­ances and the public data­base were cre­ated de­spite re­peated protests from the fi­nan­cial ser­vices in­dus­try.

In a re­sponse to the bureau’s pro­posal to be­gin pub­lish­ing the com­plaints, the Amer­i­can Bankers Assn. de­clared in Septem­ber that the data­base would be “a pur­veyor of at best un­sub­stan­ti­ated, and po­ten­tially false, in­for­ma­tion.”

Credit re­port­ing gi­ant Ex­pe­rian, which has just over 21,000 com­plaints in the bureau’s over­all data­base, ar­gued that the com­plaints prob­a­bly would con­tain “in­ac­cu­rate, mis­lead­ing, or even deroga­tory or of­fen­sive state­ments.”

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