The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s website is now home to the country’s largest public database of consumer complaints.
When the CFPB posted 19,000 consumer complaints on its website last summer, people responded with infographics and iPhone apps to process the data. The bureau just upped the number of complaints to more than 130,000, and it’s asking for new tools.
CFPB Director Richard Cordray says consumers can use the database to compare financial companies, and banks can use it to improve their service.
“For us it informs our work,” he says. “If we’re getting a number of complaints on an issue that really brings it to our attention.”
The chart below was built using the CFPB’s publicly-accessible database and includes a list of each individual complaint and what it was about.
More than half the complaints are about mortgages, and almost 60 percent of those are over loan modifications, collections or foreclosure. Almost 80 percent of bank account complaints are about checking accounts.
The CFPB checks whether consumers have relationships with the companies, but it doesn’t make sure the gripes are valid, and that bothers some bank trade groups.
“This is no different than having data dumped on how many sightings Elvis has had at McDonalds,” says Richard Hunt, president of the Consumer Bankers Association. “Let’s make sure this is verified information. That’s all we’re saying.”
The bureau says its open-data agenda is the way to the future, and this time it wants tweets from people who find interesting trends.
If you’re a member of your local public radio station, we thank you — because your support helps those stations keep programs like Marketplace on the air. But for Marketplace to continue to grow, we need additional investment from those who care most about what we do: superfans like you.
Your donation — as little as $5 — helps us create more content that matters to you and your community, and to reach more people where they are – whether that’s radio, podcasts or online.
When you contribute directly to Marketplace, you become a partner in that mission: someone who understands that when we all get smarter, everybody wins.