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Comments to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

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  1. Freedom of Information
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau ("CFPB") asked for comments regarding a proposed policy whereby it would post consumer complaint narratives…

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau ("CFPB") asked for comments regarding a proposed policy whereby it would post consumer complaint narratives in its online Consumer Complaint Database on an opt-in basis. Previously, only aggregate data from complaints submitted to the CFPB was available through the database. The CFPB's proposed policy statement changed this by allowing consumers to have any narrative included in their complaint publicly published on an opt-in basis. The Reporters Committee, joined by a coalition of news media organizations, submitted comments arguing that all consumer complaint narratives should be published. The disclosure of such comments "would assist journalists who seek to supplement the numbers already made available through the Database with the powerful firsthand experiences of individual consumers," and therefore the public interest weighs heavily in favor of their disclosure, the letter argued. The letter pointed out that the consumer complaint narratives "are agency 'records' to which the public has a right of access under the Freedom of Information Act ('FOIA')." Finally, in the event that the CFBP decided not to publish all consumer complaint narratives, the news organizations argued that an "opt-out" model should be adopted.