The bureau will only list complaints after the company in question has either responded to issue or 15 days after it received the complaint. While the bureau ensures that the complainant actually has a commercial relationship with the institution in question before adding the complaint to the database, it does not try to verify the allegations.
The information allows the CFPB to identify what areas it wants to focus on for investigations, looking at issues like the timeliness of response by the company and the ultimate resolution achieved.
The database marks the continuing growth of data collection by the agency, which was created by the Dodd-Frank financial reform law in 2010. The bureau has expanded its reach from collecting complaints about credit cards in 2011, steadily accumulating data on other consumer financial products along the way, such as mortgages and private student loans.
Alongside the database, the CFPB released a brief summary of the complaints it has received. Of the roughly 131,300 complaints it has received in the last year and a half, roughly half were tied to mortgages, while another quarter involved credit cards. Half were submitted to the bureau through its website, and referrals from other regulators constituted another 32 percent.
The bureau has passed along 83 percent of those complaints to the companies in question, while the others were either referred to other regulators, deemed incomplete or are pending. Of the complaints sent along to companies, about 95 percent have already been addressed by the company. Twenty-one percent of those responses have been disputed by consumers.
The CFPB invited the public, including consumers, analysts and "civic hackers," to dig deep into the data and find ways to utilize it or combine it with other data sets.
—This post updated at 11:17 am.