CFPB Complaint Database Scores Win for Times Columnist

by Jeff Sovern

The CFPB's former acting director, Mick Mulvaney, compared the Bureau's public database to Yelp and threatened to take it private, though he never did so. Director Kraninger has not made public her plans for the database, to the best of my knowledge, and so public access to the complaints may still be at risk. We have reported before how the database has helped even a consumer law expert. Now Pulitzer-Prize winning NY Times columnist Michelle Goldberg reports how the database helped her secure an $11,000 refund after her own efforts to work things out with her bank had failed:

I’d been signed up for a dubious program that purported to protect users’ credit in certain emergency situations. My bank had been accused of fraudulent practices in connection with it and fined $700 million by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, * * *  I tried, maddeningly, to seek redress from the bank — cycling through phone trees, screaming at automated operators. No one could tell me how I’d been enrolled in the program, or for how long.

Eventually, I turned to the C.F.P.B. itself, filling out a simple form on its website. A few weeks later, I was notified that the bank had been deducting money from my account for years, and I was being refunded more than $11,000. 

I wonder how many consumers have a similar story to tell. House Financial Services Chair Maxine Waters has said she will focus on the Bureau. This seems like one of many topics worth congressional attention.

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