June 19, 2012

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced today the release of the beta version of its new Consumer Complaint Database for credit card complaints. The database will allow the public to see information about individual customer complaints for the first time, the bureau says.

The Dodd-Frank Act gave the CFPB permission to make information available in the public interest and the bureau says that anyone with access to the web will now be able to review complaints from the database. The CFPB says that it hopes to increase transparency in the credit card markets by providing this information to consumers, advocacy groups, businesses, policy makers and journalists. Those surfing the database will be able to search for complaints by company name, zip code or subject matter, the CFPB says. Personal information like customer's names, credit card numbers and addresses will be withheld from the database.

The data collected will be used, according to the CFPB, to develop its priorities for its supervisory examinations, enforcement actions and regulations.

The CFPB is also releasing along with the beta database its latest snapshot report of the complaints that it has collected since July 21, 2011 when the bureau started taking customer complaints. Since then the CFPB says that is has received more than 40,000 complaints.

Related: A 21st Century Agency: Q&A With CFPB's Chris Willey

Credit card complaints are the first complaints the bureau has collected in the system, with complaints about other financial products to be added to the database in the future. Those products will include mortgages, student loans and bank products.

The beta version of the database will include information about complaints made on or after June 1. More retroactive data will be made available when the full version of the database is released later this year, the bureau says. The full version of the database may include additional data fields and visualization tools, making it easier to browse the data.