The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's online complaint database should be expanded to include all of the nation’s credit unions and banks, regardless of size, according to National Community Reinvestment Coalition analysis released Oct. 8.
The trade association’s review of CFPB account complaints by ZIP code resulted in a recommendation that federal regulators, including the NCUA, should further investigate the data for possible violations of consumer protection and anti-discrimination laws because more complaints were reported in predominantly minority communities.
“The CFPB, the FDIC, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Federal Reserve Board and the NCUA should develop a joint database covering all banks and credit unions so that the public has a more comprehensive view of the number of complaints issued from customers of large and small institutions,” the NCRC analysis read.
Only financial institutions with assets of $10 billion or more that are supervised by the CFPB—which includes four credit unions—have complaints listed the database. The CFPB refers complaints it receives against banks and credit unions with less than $10 billion in assets to their own regulators.
“The CFPB database should also have more detail about the nature of the complaint, and include a short narrative description of the complaint, so that the public knows more about whether the issue concerned price, quality of service, or other issues,” the NCRC analysis read.
Credit Union Times asked NAFCU if it would support an expansion of the CFPB complaint database.
“NAFCU has raised concerns with the reputation risk that unverified consumer complaints can cause for any institution, including credit unions,” responded Carrie Hunt, NAFCU senior vice president of government affairs and general counsel. “Credit unions are extremely member focused and work very hard to resolve issues that may arise,” she added.
The NCRC’s findings were based on complaint data that was made public by the CFPB this spring.
“This analysis reveals that predominantly minority communities were more likely to submit complaints about poor service related to bank accounts than predominantly white communities,” the NCRC found.
The NCRC also said minority communities were more likely to file complaints about bank accounts regardless of their income level, which raises questions about fair lending practices.
“The disproportionately high rate of complaints to the CFPB from predominately minority communities may be suggestive of fair lending concerns. We urge federal regulators to examine the complaint database closely for possible patterns of discrimination,” said NCRC President/CEO John Taylor.
“The good news is that residents in minority communities are more likely to also receive monetary relief as compensation for their complaints,” said the analysis.
“However, the CFPB database does not indicate whether this resolution was satisfactory to the consumer or whether the consumer continued a relationship with the bank. In addition, minority communities are also more likely than predominantly white communities to have their complaints unaddressed by banks,” the review also said.
Founded in 1990, the NCRC is a national trade association that represents more than 600 community organizations that promote fair credit, banking services and capital for low-income areas and minority communities. The group’s leaders are frequently called to testify before Congress.