The right to be informed; an idea that many consumers enjoy and one that supports transparency from Industry. Government agencies, like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), are intended to increase transparency in malicious business practices and to help consumers make better informed choices. However, as of late, many prominent government agents are contradicting this narrative, creating a lack of trust with consumers and a lack of accountability with poor business conduct.
Recently, the acting director of the CFPB, Mick Mulvaney, stated that he was interested in shutting down public access to the CFPB consumer complaint database. In an American Bankers Association conference, he claimed “I don’t see anything [that says] I have to run a Yelp for financial services sponsored by the federal government.” Created in 2011, the CFPB’s purpose is to regulate the financial industry by holding financial institutions accountable for malice business practices. The consumer complaint database is one entity of the agency that is intended to better inform consumers of creditors (i.e. banks) to avoid and ones to do business with. This augmentation of transparency has frustrated Industry, with one executive from Fortis Private Bank in Denver arguing that “there are a lot of comments on [the database] that are just people’s feelings about something without any substantiated facts or actual complaints around a specific issue.”
Although there is some merit in the Industry’s argument for keeping consumer related complaints against the financial industry confidential, consumers should have the right to be as fully informed as possible when making decisions on who to do banking with. Maintaining transparency in the financial industry holds creditors accountable for wrongdoing and prevents future harm against consumers. For these reasons, it should be a fiduciary responsible for the CFPB to provide this service to consumers, regardless if some complaints do not hold merit.