On November 18, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) published a blog post outlining its recent initiative to share consumer complaint data with cities and counties so they can “step up their efforts to protect consumers at the local level.”
According to the CFPB, one of the main ways to regulate consumer financial products and protect consumers from unfair practices is to collect and respond to consumer complaints. The complaints it receives inform the CFPB’s regulatory priorities and enforcement activities. The CFPB recently launched an initiative to increase the impact of its complaints data by sharing it with local governments. The CFPB says this will help protect as many consumers as possible from predatory lending, credit hurdles and other consumer harms.
Initially, the CFPB selected cities and counties best positioned to benefit from CFPB complaints data, such as: (1) local governments with civil or criminal prosecution power; and (2) local governments with, or working to create, financial empowerment offices to improve the financial stability of low- and middle-income households. The CFPB then began to integrate local governments into its government portal, which gives agencies access to more detailed information on consumer complaints and business responses than is available on the public portal.
The government portal allows cities and counties to:
- See in real time what consumers are experiencing in the financial market and how companies are reacting;
- Upload complaints and supporting documents to investigate and enforce consumer protection rules;
- Compare the issues their constituents face to other localities and nationally;
- Analyze data by time period, company, geography, and more.
- Securely transfer individual complaints to the CFPB;
- Receive the list of companies responding to complaints.
In less than three months, more than a dozen cities and counties have expressed interest in accessing the government portal. Jurisdictions participating in the program include: Los Angeles, California; New York, New York; Austin, TX; Columbus, Ohio; and Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Given the uncertain future of the CFPB, this initiative may indicate that the CFPB is focusing its resources more on partnering with state and local governments to promote its policies, thereby ensuring the continuation of its work even if its funding or authority is compromised. considerably reduced.