Editor: David Reiss
Brooklyn Law School

August 5, 2013

Not That I’m Complaining, But

By David Reiss

Ian Ayres, Jeff Lingwall and Sonia Steinway have posted Skeletons in the Database: An Early Analysis of the CFPB’s Consumer Complaints on SSRN. It is interesting both for the details it documents, but also for what it represents.  Details first:

Analyzing a new data set of 110,000 consumer complaints lodged with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, we find that

(i) Bank of America, Citibank, and PNC Bank were significantly less timely in responding to consumer complaints than the average financial institution;

(ii) consumers of some of the largest financial services providers, including Wells Fargo, Amex, and Bank of America, were significantly more likely than average to dispute the company‘s response to their initial complaints; and

(iii) among companies that provide mortgages, OneWest Bank, HSBC, Nationstar Mortgage, and Bank of America all received more mortgage complaints relative to mortgages sold than other banks. (1)

The financial services industry has complained that the CFPB complaint system would unfairly expose companies to unverified complaints. But this kind of comparative look at financial services companies shows the great value of the CFPB’s approach. As the authors’ note, this dataset is a treasure trove for researchers and should result in helpful information for consumers and regulators alike.  Sunlight is the best disinfectant!

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