ABA disappointed in CFPB release of unverified credit card data

Kenneth Clayton, the vice president of legislative affairs and chief counsel at the American Bankers Association, recently expressed disappointment in the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s plan to release unverified credit card complaint data.

“While our industry stands ready to work with the CFPB to resolve customer concerns, the Bureau’s plan to release unverified data is disappointing and could mislead consumers,” Clayton said. “Publishing allegations is often different than publishing facts. The Bureau itself acknowledges the complaints could be inaccurate, and in fact plans to disclaim their accuracy.”

As of Tuesday, consumers are now able to view limited credit card complaint data for some of the nation’s largest credit card companies. The data release ranks credit card companies by number of complaints.

Clayton said that reporting inaccurate data could not only damage the reputations of individual firms but could lead to a “misleading” resource for American consumers.

“Publicizing allegations that may or may not have any basis in fact raises serious questions about the balanced review we expect from our government agencies,” Clayton said. “It feeds the perception that the Bureau wishes to politicize the process rather than analyze the facts involved.”

The CFPB, however, said that the law authorizes the data disclosure, and while the agency does not verify the validity of each complaint, it does verify the consumer’s relationship to the company.

“Consumers can look at this data and can fairly draw the conclusion that if they engage in a financial relationship with the company this is what they can expect,” Scott Pluta, the acting assistant director of the Office of Consumer Response at the CFPB, said, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Pluta said that the CFPB checks to ensure the complaints are not duplicates, adding that the sheer length of time it takes to fill out the complaint form ensures that consumers are not taking advantage of the reporting process.

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