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CFPB Joins FTC Consumer Complaint Database

The ""Consumer Financial Protection Bureau"":http://www.consumerfinance.gov/ (CFPB) joined an exclusive law enforcement club Monday as it announced an agreement with the ""Federal Trade Commission"":http://www.ftc.gov/ (FTC) that makes it a full-fledged member of the ""Consumer Sentinel Network"":http://www.ftc.gov/sentinel/factsheet.pdf. Law enforcement agencies and personnel will now be able to view consumer complaints the CFPB submits about credit issues, debt collection, and ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô eventually ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô mortgage lending practices that complainants report.

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According to the FTC, which also administers the network, the Consumer Sentinel Network is a free online database with millions of subscribers in the law enforcement field. Members with access to files shared by federal agencies include the FTC itself, the ""Postal Inspection Service"":https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/, the ""Better Business Bureau"":http://www.bbb.org/, ""National Fraud Information Center"":http://fraud.org/ ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô and now the CFPB.

By joining the network, the CFPB will have the ability to share information about financial consumer complaints with law enforcement agents nationwide. Its addition fulfills a requirement under the Dodd-Frank Act, which established that the CFPB would join the network and participate in the community. The network is separate from an in-house ""record-keeping system"":http://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2011/01/10/2011-217/departmental-offices-privacy-act-of-1974-as-amended the ""Treasury Department"":http://www.treasury.gov/Pages/default.aspx charged it with establishing to house consumer complaints back in January.

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A spokesperson for the CFPB could not be immediately reached for comment.

Writing on behalf of the CFPB in a ""blog post"":http://www.consumerfinance.gov/coordinating-consumer-complaints/, Kent Markus, the bureau's deputy director of enforcement, said that the agreement will allow ""the CFPB to access consumer complaints within the FTC's Consumer Sentinel system. In addition, we will share complaint information that we receive from consumer with the Sentinel database, subject to appropriate privacy protections and access restrictions.""

Commenting on the bureau's addition, FTC spokesperson David Torrok tells _MReport_ ""this is a fantastic improvement to the Consumer Sentinel Network. We welcome their complaints and their addition increases the effectiveness of the Consumer Sentinel Network.""

Torrok says that the CFPB will only begin uploading information it collects about credit card complaints.

According to the spokesperson, the bureau will step up efforts against deceptive and abusive mortgage lending practices ""at another time"" and slowly.

""Once they [the CFPB] start gathering their complaints in one subject area, they are going to slowly expand into other subject areas in the future,"" he says.

For now, according to Markus' blog post, the complaints the CFPB submits will only include complaints about credit scams and advance-fee loans.

""By participating in the Consumer Sentinel database, we hope to further enhance this already useful database for ourselves and for others,"" Markus said. ""We can use the data to help make the market for financial products and services work better for consumers.

""The more good data that is included in it, the more effective it is as a tool,"" he added.

The CFPB joins the network following the issuance of four interim final rules in July. Among other things, the rules affect the bureau's ability to conduct investigations, adjudicate proceedings, and work with state officials.

About Author: Ryan Schuette

Ryan Schuette is a journalist, cartoonist, and social entrepreneur with several years of experience in real-estate news, international reporting, and business management. He currently lives in the Washington, D.C., area, where he freelances for DS News and MReport.
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