To mark the CFPB’s “third birthday,” Director Cordray sent an e-mail inviting consumers to share their “stories with the CFPB.” In addition, the CFPB has posted several videos on its website that Director Cordray described in his e-mail as “a collection of stories from people all over the country about their personal experiences in the financial marketplace.”
Director Cordray often recounts consumer stories in his remarks. Most recently, in his remarks at the CFPB’s El Paso field hearing on consumer complaints, he recounted the story of “William in Virginia, who was having problems with a credit card company.” (One of the videos posted on the CFPB’s website appears to be William telling his story.)
As we observed, the CFPB’s proposal to include consumer complaint narratives in the data it publicly discloses in its complaint database appears to be turning the database into a gripe site. In his field hearing remarks, Director Cordray also noted that consumer “stories matter because they greatly inform the work we do.” Inviting consumers to share their stories, like the disclosure of consumer complaint narratives, may provide consumers with a “feel good” soap box for airing their grievances but the CFPB’s penchant for giving prominence to consumer “stories” seems to be at odds with its promise to be a data-driven agency.