The National Association of Retail Collection Attorneys has responded to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's proposal to make consumer narratives public.
The CFPB in July published a proposed policy statement describing its plans to disclose data from consumer complaints about financial products and services. The federal agency then began the process of gathering public comment on the proposal.
NARCA's response joins with several other organizations in making recommendations for improving the proposal.
Highlights of NARCAs recommendations include:
The CFPB should go beyond just verifying a relationship between the consumer and a creditor and make efforts to confirm the accuracy of a consumer complaint before publishing it. In the last few months the courts have cited the standards for accuracy called for in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. NARCA believes those same high standards of accuracy should apply to the CFPB and the database.?
Allow companies to post narratives regardless of whether a narrative has first been posted by a consumer. The current proposal only allows companies to post a narrative only if it is in response to consumer narrative. If a consumer opts to provide only a complaint but no narrative, a company is prevented from responding, meaning consumers reviewing the complaint will only be getting one side of the story.?
Consumers should be allowed to amend their narrative at any time in the process. The current proposal provides that consumers may withdraw their consent to have their narratives posted at any time. Consumers opinions may change as they get a creditor response to their complaint or inquiry. Allowing consumer to amend their original inquiry or comment would further the stated CFPB goal of providing the full story.
The database should allow consumers the ability to post complimentary narratives. The current proposal provides no mechanism for consumers to post narrative compliments about their interaction with a creditor. The CFPB should add this functionality to its database since positive comments are just as helpful in consumer decision-making as negative comments.
"We believe these recommendations will support the CFPBs goal of protecting consumers by helping to educate them on financial best practices and we look forward to continuing our productive relationship with the CFPB," said Joann Needleman, president of NARCA and a member of the CFPB Consumer Advisory Board.
"We commend the CFPB for its efforts to provide a transparent and level playing field for both consumers and creditors," she added. "We are in agreement with the agency that providing consumers with the both sides of the story will help educate consumers on responsible financial management."
NARCA is a not-for-profit trade association comprised of more than 600 law firms and in-house counsel engaged in debt collection.