When the CFPB officially opened its doors for business on July 21, it also began taking credit card complaints from consumers on its redesigned Web site. Much of the information requested by the on-line complaint form is straight-forward: name, credit card number, name of bank, a description of “the issue” and whether the consumer has contacted the bank, hired an attorney or taken certain other actions to try to resolve the issue. However, the form also asks some unsettling questions, such as “if you lost money, how much money did you lose” (which appears to imply the issuer is at fault), “do you believe the issue involves discrimination” (which seems likely to generate many unfounded fair lending claims), and “what do you think would be a fair resolution” (which seems likely to create unrealistic expectations for consumers.)
And, perhaps not unconnected to the CFPB’s study of mandatory arbitration required by Dodd-Frank, “arbitration” is included among the categories that a consumer can select to describe his or her complaint. Also unsettling is our understanding that the CFPB has told issuers it expects them to respond to complaints within 10 days. This would seem to undercut the substantially longer timelines issuers have to respond to credit card disputes under the Fair Credit Billing Act.
Among other concerns still to be resolved is who will have access to the information in the complaint system. In a briefing before the system’s launch, the CFPB told trade associations that it would forward complaints about issuers not under its supervision (issuers with total assets of $10 billion or less) to the appropriate prudential regulators. The CFPB also said it plans to roll out a similar on-line process for other products and markets in the coming months.