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Trump Official Mick Mulvaney Can Hide CFPB Consumer Protection Data from the Public: NPR



Mick Mulvaney, Deputy Director of the CFPB, testifies at a House House hearing. Mulvaney says he does not need a "Yelp for financial services sponsored by the federal government".

Manuel Balce Céneta / AP


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Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP

Mick Mulvaney, Acting Director of the CFPB, testifies at a House House hearing. Mulvaney says he does not need a "Yelp for financial services sponsored by the federal government".

Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP

If a consumer has a complaint about a bank, whether it's a mortgage or a credit card, there is now a place to file that complaint online.

It's easy to click around and look for similar complaints. And it's a tool that consumers can use when trying to weigh whether they want to do business with a particular bank or another type of financial company. Investigators like this database as well, with thousands of similar complaints coming up, it could be a red flag that there is a problem with a bank they need to delve into.

The Trump Administration's Mick Mulvaney was back in the news week because he said he wanted to close public access to this popular government database at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

The industry likes this idea and has long been over The database complains because it says that the complaints are not adequately checked. Consumer groups say that keeping the public from seeing the database is a step in the direction of the companies that the Consumer Regulatory Authority is supposed to monitor.

The CFPB is a strong regulator created after the financial crisis. It is currently headed by Mulvaney, who once supported the legislation to abolish the office when he was in Congress. He often called the office too powerful and aggressive.

Mulvaney has taken a number of steps that have been harshly criticized by consumer groups. On Tuesday he spoke to a group of bankers and suggested that he take the CFPB's online database and hide the complaints from the public.

Referring to the law that created the CFPB, he told the room full of lobbyists and bankers a conference of the American Bankers Association: "I see nothing [that says] I need to run a Yelp service for financial services, run by the federal government is supported. "

"I think I could recite the case," Mulvaney continued to have a publicly accessible database, but it is not fully audited, probably not consistent with our entire mission.

The database is designed to hold financial companies accountable, for example, when someone refinances their home and has bad experiences. With a bank, they can go online and file a complaint that will be added to the database.

So far Americans have filed more than a million of these complaints, and regulators may use this data to decide if they are investigating financial firms. [19659019] Mick Mulvaney, chief of the Consumer Finance Bureau, has stated that he has public access to the agency's consumer complaint database



consumer protection authority

For years, the financial industry has said that people can submit complaints that are not true, bringing "unreliable and misleading information to the marketplace."

Kim Gustafson, a manager at Fortis Private Bank in Denver, says "There are many comments on [the database] that are just the feelings of people about something without well-founded fact or actual grievances on a particular topic."

The CFPB gives companies the ability to determine if the person is actually a customer and also to submit a written response to a complaint before any of the information is published in the database.

Consumer advocates are not happy about the direction the office is going in, or this latest revelation that Mulvaney could postpone to hide complaints in the database from the public.

"Daylight is a great disinfectant and the American people have a right to know when tens of thousands of their fellow citizens complain about a financial institution "says Karl Frisch, CEO of consumer protection group Allied Progress. "The CFPB received tens of thousands of complaints about Wells Fargo and this issue is now resolved."

Frisch refuses to close the database in part because he says academics, journalists, consumer groups like him should have access to information.


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