One of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) mandates under the Dodd-Frank Act is to “facilitate the centralized collection of, monitoring of, and response to consumer complaints about consumer financial products or services.” To fulfill that mandate, the CFPB published a notice in the Federal Register on July 25, 2013, proposing a new generic information collection clearance to permit the Bureau to:
- Pilot new consumer complaint and inquiry intake forms
- Gather consumer and stakeholder feedback about the consumer response process
- Promote complaint referral
- Collect data about responding companies’ internal complaint management processes
In 2011, the CFPB first proposed the use of the generic clearance process for information collections associated with the establishment of its consumer response program, asserting that the multiple information collections required to implement the new program “would benefit from a streamlined and expedited [review] process.”
The revised proposal published in July sought comments by August 26, 2013, on: a) Whether the collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the CFPB’s functions, including whether the information shall have practical utility; b) the accuracy of the CFPB's estimate of the burden of the collection of information, including the validity of the methods and the assumptions used; c) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and d) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on respondents, including through the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology.
According to a comment letter submitted to the CFPB by the American Bankers Association (ABA), the CFPB is effectively seeking an exemption from the Paperwork Reduction Act, which was enacted to "ensure the greatest possible public benefit from and to maximize the utility of information created, collected, maintained, used, shared and disseminated by or for the Federal Government." The letter contends that every consumer complaint relies directly upon personal financial information, the privacy of which should be a major concern. Therefore, the letter states, it is inappropriate and unwise for the CFPB to treat these data under generic rather than normal clearance procedures by the Office of Management and Budget.