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OIG Blasts CFPB Database for "Noticeable Inaccuracies"

Phil Hall
Sep 16, 2015
Database Pic

The controversial Consumer Complaint Database operated by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has come under new criticism–this time, from the Federal Reserve’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG), which harshly questioned how the Bureau operates the database.

“We identified areas in which management controls should be improved to enhance the accuracy and completeness of the Consumer Complaint Database,” the OIG report stated, noting that the CFPB failed to establish “separate management controls to ensure the accuracy of data extracted from the system and included in the Consumer Complaint Database. We found several noticeable inaccuracies in our analysis of the 254,835 complaints in the Consumer Complaint Database as of June 30, 2014. Although the number of complaints with inaccuracies that we identified was relatively small, enhancing existing controls would help ensure that as the number and types of complaints published increase, overall reliability of the data is maintained.”

The OIG added that CFPB did not review all company closing responses, “including verifying whether the company-selected response is consistent with the definition,” nor did it “consistently publish untimely company closing responses in the Consumer Complaint Database.” It also criticized the CFPB for allowing 60 days for consumers to dispute company responses, rather than 30 days as stated in its publications.

The OIG also warned that consumers were not being well served by the agency that is supposed to look out for their needs.

“Further, consumers are not consistently offered the opportunity to dispute untimely company responses,” the report continued. “Finally, although the Consumer Complaint Database Web site asserts that complaint data are refreshed daily, we found that [the CFPB] did not consistently notify the public when the database was not updated.”

The CFPB made no public acknowledgment of the OIG’s findings. The Bureau launched the database earlier this year, amid numerous complaints from financial services industry leaders and trade groups that it provided a highly inaccurate consideration of how consumers interact with their lenders and servicers.

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