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CFPB's Consumer Complaint Database needs some work

Consumer Reports News: April 06, 2013 10:08 AM

The recently expanded Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's Consumer Complaint Database lets you submit and view gripes about bank accounts, credit cards, loans, and more, but its use is limited.

More than 90,000 searchable complaints are in the Consumer Complaint Database, a number that grows daily. Each entry shows the type of complaint, how the company responded, and whether the consumer is disputing the answer, and other information. A search for "Wells Fargo" in the "bank account or service" category returned more than 15,600 complaints, sortable by subproduct, such as "checking account" or "conventional fixed mortgage," as well as by ZIP code and date received.

One big drawback to the Consumer Complaint Database is that you can't read the complaints themselves. And issue summaries are very brief and typically not extremely useful. For example, one of the Wells Fargo checking-account complaints simply listed the issue as "Account opening, closing, or management." Another said the issue was "Problems caused by my funds being low." Clicking on the complaints didn't provide further details. A CFPB blog post provides suggestions for how you might use the database.

You'll likely get more useful information by checking company reports at the Better Business Bureau or by doing a general Web search with the name of a company, product, or service and such words as "complaints" or "reviews."

Related: Become your own consumer watchdog

Anthony Giorgianni

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