Banks and consumer groups are feuding over whether complaints filed to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau should be publicly available.
On one side are groups like the Consumers Union and the Sunlight Foundation that call for an open system that would allow anyone to scan the raw submmissions. But industry groups complain that making them public could allow frivolous complaints to damage reputable brands.
"The point of banking supervision is to get the system working properly, not to air dirty laundry and scare capital away from banks," Richard Riese, senior vice president at the American Bankers Association's Center for Regulatory Compliance, said in an interview.
The hot line has become a focal point of a philosophical debate about the bureau's role — whether it should aim to improve consumer financial products primarily by working directly with companies or by bringing public attention to unfair practices.
Bureau officials plan to open the hot line by accepting consumer complaints about credit cards starting on July 21, according to a person involved in the work.
The Dodd-Frank regulatory reform law requires the CFPB to log complaints in a database and route them to the appropriate federal or state agency. A separate provision says the bureau and other regulators must create procedures to ensure that financial companies provide "a timely response" to consumers.
The agency is working with five of the largest credit card issuers to make certain they can begin receiving complaint referrals in July, said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the process isn't public.
Credit card complaints will be accepted first because they deal with the most common form of consumer finance, the person said.