Money & Business

Financial Services Roundtable Takes Aim at "CFPB Rumors"

By / Aug 20, 2014 Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, the president and CEO of the Financial Services Roundable. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is looking to expand the information it supplies to the public on consumer complaints about financial services firms. But a key trade group says the effort will create a distorted picture of the industry.

Before the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) goes forward with its plan to add to its online Consumer Complaint Database anonymous, detailed narratives about financial institutions, a key trade group in the sector would like to air its point of view.

This week, the Financial Services Roundtable (FSR) launched a new website, “CFPB Rumors,” which claims that the agency is creating a place for misinformation to be spread to the public.

“The CFPB’s plan will feature only one side of the story, and such one-sided accounts will not advance the CFPB’s mission of better informing and helping consumers,” the FSR’s president and CEO, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, said in a statement.

In July, CFPB announced a proposal to provide more detailed information to the public about the more than 400,000 complaints left on its website since the agency was established roughly three years ago.

The announcement rankled the financial industry and led to FSR’s new site, which argues that while consumers will get to make their case, financial firms won’t have the same opportunity. “The complaints will be posted publicly, but the businesses named in the complaint won’t be able to submit an explanation or a status update on the issue, even if the complaint has been fully resolved,” the site notes, arguing that the agency’s effort to fast-track the proposal left little time for the public to comment on it.

Other organizations, such as the Consumer Bankers Association, say the agency’s unwillingness to verify the complaints hurts its long-term reputation.

“It is the role of the CFPB as the traffic cop to distinguish violations of law from unfounded complaints,” CBA CEO Richard Hunt told the Wall Street Journal. “Instead, they want to let others figure it out from one-sided and unverified narrative information.”

CFPB denies that the database will create a skewed picture, saying on its website that “companies would be given the opportunity to post a written response that would appear next to the consumer’s story.”

“It is disappointing that some members of the financial services industry perceive their own customers’ complaints as rumors,” CFPB spokesperson Jennifer Howard said in a statement to Politico.

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »