WASHINGTON — The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Thursday unveiled an interactive database with answers to consumers' frequently asked questions about financial products.
The agency's Web-based "Ask CFPB" portal — one of several recent outreach efforts by the bureau — lets consumers enter a question about a particular topic, which essentially triggers a search engine to find a suitable response based on common questions.
Richard Cordray, the bureau's director, said the aim is for the bureau to provide consumers with clear, unbiased information, yet stay clear of any fiduciary relationship with borrowers.
"Were not giving personal, contextual advice for an individual who wants to decide whether they should open this bank account or do that," he said. "We're providing general background for people to educate themselves and give them the ability to make those choices for themselves."
The platform includes plain-language answers to more than 350 questions, which were assembled over the past eight months by the bureau's consumer-response and consumer-engagement teams, with help from other specialists at the agency.
The answers fall into three general categories: definitions, explanations, and situations. Much like Google searches, when consumers begin to type in a question in the search bar, the database's auto-complete feature provides search suggestions. It also lets users browse by a particular topic — credit card agreements, reverse mortgages or debt collection, for example. A user can then narrow results by consumer category, such as service members or students.
Officials likened the service to the Zappos.com — a website for purchasing shoes and other clothing shoe website — which gives users myriad options to filter their searches for the most relevant results.
The CFPB intends to add responses to other questions based on user suggestions.