Credit Card Complaint Database Debuts

Want to know which credit card company receives the most complaints from consumers? 

You'll be able to find out very soon. 

And it could be a potential nightmare for the PR professionals of these companies. 

On June 19, against major opposition from the financial industry, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau decided to share all individual-level complaint data it receives with the public. The Consumer Complaint Database was launched in a beta version with the hopes of expanding to other financial products covered by the CFPB, including mortgages and student loans. The bureau has collected more than 45,000 complaints since July of 2011. 

According to the CFPB’s Web site, consumer complaints will no longer just be seen by the complainant, bank and regulator, but these issues will available to everyone, including developers, policymakers and journalists. No personal information, such as names, addresses and credit card numbers, will be made public. 

Organizations never want their dirty laundry aired. And with this landmark decision, tons of negative feedback from unhappy consumers will force PR professionals to switch into serious damage-control mode. Complaints that were previously private, will now be presented in a way that may reflect negatively on companies that have enjoyed positive reputations. It is important now that this decision has been made for communications departments to develop a plan of action when the data is made public. 

The CFPB says its goal is to improve the transparency and efficiency of the credit card market to further empower American consumers. As a result, PR professionals must be prepared to deal with what could be an approaching storm.

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