Sometimes a question and call to a financial company can leave you feeling uneasy about getting ripped off. The newly-created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was created to help consumers in this exact position.
Not only does the CFPB act as a watchdog for companies preying on consumers, it has created a consumer complaint database to increase corporate transparency and responsibility.
A complaint database may not sound very exciting, but it actually helps consumers in major ways. First, the bureau gives consumers a government agency to seek help from when they feel a company is exploiting them.
Second, having the database of previous complaints helps potential customers decide if a certain company is right for them. This will help consumers answer the age-old question of how a company will treat them several months down the line when a problem arises. Similarly, the previous complaints can help those with an issue find out how a company in question will resolve it.
Finally, the database was created in the hopes of increasing corporate transparency with consumers. Often, the problem with reporting a complaint to a company is the only people with access to the complaint are you and the company. Having open information about how complaints are received and dealt with means everyone will have a record of how issues are handled, ending privatized company logs.
As of now, the database is in beta and only contains a few hundred complaints focusing on the banking and credit industry. The database upsets banks who feel the CFPB has no way to determine the legitimacy of complaints.
In response, the CFPB affirms that they have a system for determining the legitimacy of complaints as well as a rule against posting any complaints until service with the company in question is confirmed. Similarly, the independent bureau has no bias or support for an individual company.
Depending on how the database of credit complaints is received, the bureau is hoping to expand it to include over 25,000 complaints from the student loan, mortgage and banking product industries. With this and future expansion, the CFPB is hoping to create an all-inclusive resource for consumer protection.
Although the CFPB and complaint database are great resources for anyone, there is also a resource more specifically for service members and their families to keep the military community safe from scammers. The Office of Servicemember Affairs is dedicated to making sure service members can do their job without the threat of illegal and harmful financial scams.
Be sure to take full advantage of consumer watchdog agencies like these to make sure you and your fellow service members and consumers are treated fairly and given proper financial service.