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The Editors

Let Consumer Complaints See the Light of Day

Sunlight is the best disinfectant. So why hide a database of claims against financial companies?

Have a complaint?

Have a complaint?

Photographer: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Mick Mulvaney, shares the industry’s dislike of one of the bureau’s most visible innovations: a public database of consumer complaints. His view is disappointing to those who think more information is better.  

Since 2011, the database has registered and tracked more than 1 million grievances about a broad range of financial companies, including banks, mortgage lenders, credit reporting agencies and debt collectors. The bureau collects complaints online and by phone, verifies the customer relationships and contacts the companies, which have 15 days to respond. The results are published on the bureau’s website, including such details as the company name, the product, the type of complaint, the consumer’s ZIP code and, in many cases, a brief narrative.