As soon as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) opened its doors in 2011, it began accepting complaints from consumers facing problems in the financial marketplace — and often helping those consumers fix their problems or get financial relief.
But the CFPB didn’t stop at just accepting complaints. In 2012, it began making complaint data available to the public through the Consumer Complaint Database. Over the years, the database has become a treasure trove of information on consumer experiences in the financial marketplace, offering critical insights for consumers, researchers, CFPB watchdogs and the private sector. And the two-way flow of information it provides is a demonstration of what 21st century responsive government can look like.
The information in the database can be incredibly powerful, and it has served as an important data source for dozens of pieces of research by Frontier Group and our partners at U.S. PIRG Education Fund. It can also present challenges for new users. So, as an author of some of our most recent research analyzing complaint data, I’ve compiled some information and tips for getting the most out of the database, and also built a new tool for downloading data.