Putting Consumers First

The Missing Voice in the CFPB’s Coronavirus Response
Released by: U.S. PIRG Education Fund

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB or the Bureau) consumer complaint tool empowers consumers to report problems related to their financial services providers. This tool serves an especially critical function as the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic rages across the country. The Bureau’s complaint tool not only provides a mechanism for consumers to get a response to their concerns about consumer financial products and services but also serves as a guidepost for government officials and advocates to uncover patterns of abuse and identify issues in the financial services marketplace that may not have been uncovered before.

In a time of crisis, the complaint tool can and must be enhanced to meet the urgent needs of consumers facing economic distress. The CFPB should use the full extent of its authority to take immediate action to strengthen its consumer complaint tool, hold companies accountable for providing complete and timely responses to consumers, and leverage consumer complaints related to the pandemic to support oversight and regulatory action to protect consumers.

Given the magnitude of the coronavirus pandemic, the CFPB needs to expand and enhance its consumer complaint system. We propose a number of changes to the Bureau’s complaint tool and public Consumer Complaint Database. These changes are urgently needed during the pandemic but many, such as the addition of small business complaints to the tool, should be made permanently.

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