CFPB’s Latest News on the Complaints Database

This is a direct communication from the CFPB Press Releases– see CFPB’s website for more!

September 18, 2019

Office of Communications
Tel: (202) 435-7170


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced that it will continue the publication of consumer complaints, data fields and narrative descriptions through the Bureau’s Consumer Complaint Database while making several enhancements to the information available to users of the database. The enhancements include: modified disclaimers to provide better context to the published data; integrating financial information and resources into the complaint process to help address questions and better inform consumers before they submit a complaint; and information to assist consumers who wish to contact the financial company to get answers to their specific questions. Additionally, the Bureau will work to provide enhanced features for the database that include dynamic visualization tools on recent complaint data.

“Since its inception, the Consumer Complaint Database has not been without controversy. When the Bureau asked for feedback in 2018, we received nearly 26,000 comments from a wide array of stakeholders including government officials, consumer groups, companies, academics, and individual consumers. After carefully examining and considering all stakeholder and public input, we are announcing the continued publication of complaints with enhanced data and context that will benefit consumers and users of the database while addressing many of the concerns raised,” said CFPB Director Kathleen L. Kraninger. “The continued publication of the database, along with the enhancements, empowers consumers and informs the public.”

The Bureau is making changes to its website to provide disclosures on the nature of complaints as well as resources to consumers, including:

  • More prominently display disclosures making it clear that the Consumer Complaint Database is not a statistical sample of consumers’ experiences in the marketplace;
  • Highlighting the availability of answers to common financial questions for consumers to help inform them before they submit a complaint; and
  • Highlighting consumers ability to contact the financial company directly to get answers to their specific questions.

The Bureau will continue to publish all previously disclosed fields, including consumers’ narrative descriptions of their complaints. To further enhance the database in the coming months, the Bureau will:

  • Build and launch dynamic visualization tools including geospatial and trend views based on recent complaint data to help users of the database understand current and recent marketplace conditions;
  • Emphasize features for aggregation and analysis while continuing to make all the underlying data available for analysis;
  • Explore expansion of a company’s ability to respond publically to individual complaints listed in the database; and
  • Continue to explore ways to put the complaint data in context of other data, such as by incorporating product or service market share and company size.

To date, the Bureau has handled more than 1.9 million complaints. More than 5,000 financial companies have responded through this process, providing timely responses to 97 percent of the more than 1.3 million complaints sent to them for response.

The Consumer Complaint Database is available at:

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a 21st century agency that helps consumer finance markets work by regularly identifying and addressing outdated, unnecessary, or unduly burdensome regulations, by making rules more effective, by consistently enforcing federal consumer financial law, and by empowering consumers to take more control over their economic lives. For more information, visit”

Uber’s No-Call Zone!

Uber has no allowance for one to call customer service, and the in-app responses appear to be bots or cut/paste from a list of ready answers that may or may not respond to the concern raised.  This is very concerning from a consumer protection perspective.  One may even be in a dangerous situation, or learn that someone at Uber compromised their personal data and credit…..but Uber still will not call the consumer or respond to emails with substantive attention.  Even the “emergency number” (one finds after diligent research) provides only a recorded message and no live person to answer in most of the country!

This means that if Uber charges too much or there is another issue, the consumer is often left with no remedy if the online system provides the old “we think we are right” wrote answer through the app.  Indeed, Uber may simply ignore multiple messages and send a cut/paste/bot answer:  “we are still researching” — which can go on for eternity.  With no number to call or supervisor to contact……the consumer is literally left with no remedy.  Furthermore, if one’s online account is inaccurate and failing to show the actual amounts charged, there is again no remedy.

It reminds one of being bullied, and leaves one feeling helpless.

It seems there should be a consumer protection law that requires that all companies must have a customer help line!  Perhaps the FTC act should be read to classify lack of customer support as a “deceptive trade practice”?

As a consumer law professor, and a victim of Uber’s “no-call zone” and lack of customer assistance, I am deeply troubled.

Tools in Missouri to Submit Your Consumer Complaint

This presentation outlines resources for consumers in Missouri to submit their consumer complaints. It also walks the consumer through the various steps a complaint goes through when it is submitted to the Better Business Bureau and the Missouri Attorney General’s Office. Finally, the presentation concludes with a brief overview of the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act, which is a statute that empowers consumers to bring fraudulent businesses to justice. [embeddoc url=”” download=”all” viewer=”microsoft”]

Top Ten Ways the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act Protects You Against Collection Agencies

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is the main law that regulates how a collector collects on a debt. By knowing your rights under this law you can empower yourself and protect yourself from harassment or misleading practices by collectors.

1. Collectors can only call between 8 A.M. and 9 P.M. in YOUR time zone. c(a)(1)

The FDCPA directly states that collection agencies can’t call at a place or time which is obviously inconvenient to the consumer. The law sets out 8 A.M. to 9 P.M. as an assumed acceptable time to contact the debtor. However, you can tell the collector if there’s a different time range that works best for you!


2. Collectors can’t call you at work if you tell them not to. c(a)(3)

Collectors are within their rights to attempt to contact a debtor at their place of work. However, if you aren’t able to receive phone calls of that nature at work and tell the collector that, then they can no longer contact you there!


3. Collectors can’t call family members or friends more than once. b(a)(3)

Typically a collector may call a friend of family member of a debtor in order to receive contact information for the debtor. However, the FDCPA states that the collector may only call the family member or friend once, and cannot mention anything about the debtor owing money. Essentially, the FDCPA protects from collectors harassing family and friends to attempt to force the debtor into paying.


4. Collectors can’t threaten to sue or repossess if they don’t mean it. e(a)(4)

It is against the FDCPA for a collector to imply that not paying a debt will result in the repossession or lawsuit against the debtor if the repossession or lawsuit is unlawful or if the collector has no intention to take such action.


5. Collectors can’t lie about what you owe. e(a)(2)(A)

Harassing collectors may try to pressure a debtor into paying by saying the debtor owes more than they do. This action is also strictly prohibited by the FDCPA.


6. Collectors can’t call you repeatedly in one day (d)(a)(5)

Incessant calling is one of the main complaints against collection agencies. Which is why the FDCPA states that “causing a telephone to ring or engaging any person in telephone conversation repeatedly or continuously with intent to annoy, abuse, or harass any person at the called number” is harassment.


7. Collectors must send you a letter with information of your debt (g)(a)

The FDCPA states that within five days of initial communication with a debtor the collector must send a “validation letter” which states the amount of the debt, the original creditor the debt came from, how to dispute the debt, and how to pay the debt.


8. Collector’s can’t call you if you have a lawyer for your debts b(a)(6), c(a)(2)

If a debt collector knows that the debtor is represented by an attorney regarding the debt and has or can easily obtain the attorney’s contact information, then, under the FDCPA, the collector can no longer contact the debtor.


9. Collector’s can’t threaten to have you arrested (e)(a)(4)

It is directly against the FDCPA if the collector threatens to have the debtor arrested for not paying their debt.


10. Collector’s can’t claim to be a lawyer e(a)(3)

The FDCPA explicitly states that collectors are not allowed to imply that they are an attorney or are conveying information from an attorney.


Final tip: You can negotiate paying your debt with collectors! At the end of the day collection agencies want to be paid. This is why some FDCPA compliant collectors are willing to negotiate with debtors to allow them to pay a lower amount that is feasible for the debtor.

The Missouri Merchandising Practices Act: Is it time for reform?

Don’t like the “slack-fill” in your potato chip bag? Well, luckily for you, under the current Missouri Merchandising Practices Act (MMPA), you can sue for that! Plaintiffs’ attorneys have been filing “slack-fill” lawsuits in Missouri for years. For example, in 2016 a case was brought against Hershey for slack fill in Reese’s Pieces and Whoppers containers. The case survived a motion to dismiss by the Western District of Missouri under the MMPA despite the fact that packaging showed the amount in every serving, the number of servings, and the weight of the packaging. Ultimately, the plaintiff lost. The judge said the plaintiff was not really harmed because he knew about the “slack-fill” and bought the candies anyway. Frivolous cases like these clog the judicial system and do not serve to protect consumers.

Bills aimed at reforming the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act were proposed in 2016, 2017, and 2018. Senate Bill 276, introduced on January 17, 2019, would set up a “reliance standard,” which means that consumers must prove that the unlawful acts of businesses misled them into purchases, resulting in damages. Consumers who cannot prove causation may find their cases dismissed.

Consumers would also have to show that they acted reasonably during a transaction. A court may dismiss a claim where the claim fails to show a likelihood that the alleged unlawful act would mislead a reasonable consumer. Furthermore, consumers must show individual damages with sufficiently objective evidence to allow the loss to be calculated with a reasonable degree of certainty. The amount of recoverable damage would be determined by the consumer’s “out-of-pocket loss,” which the bill defined as the difference between what the consumer paid and what the market value of the product or service actually is.

The goal of the SB 276 is to prevent frivolous suits and promote a standard that exists in other states Proponents of the bill reason that the MMPA is currently so broad that it has opened the door for “junk lawsuits,” lining the pockets of trial attorneys instead of fulfilling its consumer protection mission.

The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry has backed MMPA reform efforts for several years. Opponents of the bill are concerned that the proposed legislation would strip consumers of their ability to sue fraudulent businesses.

To read more about the rise of slack-fill cases, see:

Bratton v. Hershey Co., 2:16-CV-4322-C-NKL, 2017 WL 2126864 (W.D. Mo. May 16, 2017).

Repairing Missouri’s Broken Consumer Protection Law, Missouri Business Headlines, Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry,

“I Can’t Afford Bankruptcy”

Americans are often thrust into financial hardship through little fault of their own. Sometimes, filing for bankruptcy is your only chance at a fresh start. In order to file for bankruptcy, you need to hire an attorney to help you throughout the bankruptcy process. Unfortunately, most Americans cannot afford to pay for a bankruptcy attorney. This power point presentation accompanies an article I am currently writing that shows how modern consumers cannot access the bankruptcy courts simply because the U.S. Bankruptcy Code does not allow Chapter 7 attorney fees to be paid over time like Chapter 13 attorney fees can.

Briggs – Final Presentation – Bankruptcy Attorney Fees

Negotiation: 10 Tips and Tricks; How to Find a Resolution Online

Whenever you find yourself buying, selling, or finding a resolution online, remember these tips to save yourself time, money, and a headache.

  1. Educate yourself.

If you know the value of what it is you are trying to buy or sell, you are in a place where you can approximate how much you can reasonably offer/demand as payment. Coming in with an estimation close to what is the likely outcome will demonstrate both reasonableness and intelligence. When in doubt, Google it.

  1. Check your tone of text.

Communicating online is difficult because there is no vocal tone or facial expressions to attach to a message. People can easily misinterpret something meant in a kind way as rude because of this. Attempt to read your message from different perspectives prior to submission.

  1. Confirm your source.

If you buy/sell something to someone who has bad intentions, it is possible to find yourself in a bad situation—particularly because you have never met some of these people in person. Make sure to read different reviews if they are available, and when you are finished, leave your own review to help people in the future. You can provide a lot of guidance!

  1. Anchor your price.

Although you may find yourself wanting a fair outcome, as a buyer, start a bit lower, and as a seller, start a bit higher. You might find that 1) your price is met or 2) you receive a better deal because it is hard to move too far from an offer/demand once it is made.

  1. Advocate for you.

If something does go wrong, remember your outlets for a resolution. Reach out to online sources if it is a large company with a website. You can use email, social media, and instant messenger to contact. In the end, never underestimate a phone call and lots of patience. If none of these outlets work, there are methods to report sellers/buyers on websites such as Ebay & Amazon. You can report businesses to the Better Business Bureau. Find these outlets and make some noise—the “squeaky wheel” gets the most attention.

  1. Remember your value.

You are a consumer. Whether you are using a platform to sell something or you are buying something. Sometimes these online interactions can go poorly, but remember, companies need you. They need you to use their platforms; they need you to buy their products; they need you to “advertise” and support them, otherwise they will fail to find success. Feel empowered.

  1. Try multiple avenues.

Try to look for what you want from different places. There are many avenues that will price match. If you can show that the product or a comparable product is sold for a different price, then you can often negotiate. If the buyer/seller is unwilling to negotiate, they might not be the best option for you, which leads to number 8.

  1. When in doubt, walk away.

The willingness to walk away is often a very powerful tool. Remember that there will always be another buyer/seller and another product. However, if it is something you really want, bluff. It is okay to mislead in this instance. If you feel that something is “shady,” follow your gut and walk away. You will have more regrets spending money on a product that never comes in the mail or driving to meet a buyer that never shows up, then going with someone/something different. Sometimes it is worth spending a little bit more money or searching a little bit longer for peace of mind.

  1. Push back.

If someone is attempting to bully you into a price, undervalue you, or even convince of an untrue fact about a product, push back. If someone is trying to meet you somewhere you do not feel comfortable with, push back. If you are not getting the resolution you believe you truly deserve, push back. Ask for what you want. The worst that can happen is you create a sour relationship with someone you will likely never see again. Be respectful, but also, say what you want. With all the online revenues, you have lots of options on how to go about finding a resolution; push back with a variety of those and see what will happen.

  1. Justify your stance.

Something might hold more value for you than someone else. Feel free to justify your stance. Let someone know why you believe that this has a particular value. Support it with evidence. Online dispute resolution is an amazing avenue because often, there is an electronic record of the efforts you have taken and the words that have passed between you. Use this. Finally, remember: you are your own best advocate. Empower yourself, and you will find what you are looking for.