March 28, 2013

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau today announced it is making public its database of consumer financial complaints.

The database contains some 90,000 searchable complaints on mortgages, student loans, bank accounts and services, other consumer loans, and credit cards. According to the CFPB, many sub-categories of products are also listed, such as reverse mortgages, conventional fixed mortgages, conventional adjustable mortgages, and home equity loans or lines of credit all within the mortgage category.

[Related: CFPB Examines Consumer Experience with Major Credit Reporting Agencies]

Approximately 450 companies are named in the database, which also includes the type of complaint, the date of submission, the consumer’s ZIP code and what type of action the company took in response to the complaint.

Interestingly, the CFPB said the data is also available via API, so developers can build applications, conduct analyses, and perform research on it. Additionally, this will allow consumers can build their own visualizations, charts and graphs, and embed on other websites and shared through social media.

The database updates daily. Complaints are listed in the database only after the company responds to the complaint or after they have had the complaint for 15 days, the agency said.

While the CFPB admitted it does not verify the allegations in each complaint, a commercial relationship between the consumer and the company must be substantiated before the complaint is added to the database.

“By sharing these complaints with the public, we are creating greater transparency in consumer financial products and services,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray in a statement. “The database is good for consumers and it is also good for honest businesses. We believe the marketplace of ideas can do great things with this data.”

Bryan Yurcan is associate editor for Bank Systems and Technology. He has worked in various editorial capacities for newspapers and magazines for the past 8 years. After beginning his career as ...