Last week, the CFPB launched a new series of monthly reports to “highlight key trends from consumer complaints submitted to the Bureau.” The first report is here. The CFPB intends for each monthly report to provide top-level highlights of consumer complaints reported to the CFPB’s Office of Consumer Response. The reporting includes complaint volume broken down by product/service type, complaint reporting trends, state-level information, and a list of the most complained-about companies. June’s report, for example, identifies that “the most complained-about financial product or service was debt collection, representing about 32 percent of complaints submitted.”
Each monthly report will also include a spotlight on complaint trends in a specific product or service area the agency regulates, as well as a spotlight on trends in a single geographic market. The June report spotlights the debt collection area and complaint trends affecting consumers in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The report concludes that consumers most complained about debt collection agencies allegedly attempting to collect debts not owed, followed by complaints about communications at inappropriate times.
In the CFPB’s press release, Director Richard Cordray said: “Consumer complaints are the CFPB’s compass and play a central role in everything we do. They help us identify and prioritize problems for potential action.” While it is unclear how these reports will influence CFPB policy (the self-selection bias inherent in self-reported complaints limits their usefulness as a tool for measuring a company’s performance), what is clear is that the CFPB is thinking of new ways to leverage the data its agency collects from consumers as it carries out its mission.