CFPB Complaints: How To Contact, File a Complaint, or Search the Database

Nicolas Cesare
Letters containing consumer complaints to the CFPB.

What should you do when you’re wronged by a financial institution? How can you defend yourself against a bank or other lender? One of the first things that you should do is find out if the institution’s actions have had an effect on your credit score. If so, then you should try to repair your credit right away.

However, sometimes a bank or credit card company can do something so egregious that you can’t just let it slide by in good conscious. In those cases, you may be desperate to have your voice heard and make sure that your bad experience isn’t in vain. If you’ve been mistreated by a financial institution or anyone offering services related to finance, then you can submit a complaint to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

The CFPB was established by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act in 2010, as a response to the 2008 Global Financial Crisis. Dodd-Frank set about to protect consumers and financial institutions from the fallout of the very same risky financial behaviors that had led to the crisis. One way to do that was to empower and protect consumers, through the creation of the CFPB, a government agency designed to protect the interests of consumers in financial markets. Specifically, the CFPB creates regulations to catch and prevent wrongdoing by lenders and institutions related to mortgages, student loans, credit cards, and other forms of debt.

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CFPB Complaints Database

One way for the CFPB to do this is to collect and curate consumer complaints about companies that operate in financial markets. These complaints go into the CFPB’s Consumer Complaints Database. Complaints submitted to this database will include the following important information:

  • The name of the company that the complaint is about.
  • The date that the CFPB received the complaint and subsequently forwarded it to the company.
  • Information about the consumer, including their rough location.
  • The financial product (such as a car loan, mortgage, credit card, etc.) that the consumer had an issue with.
  • The type of issue that the consumer had, including a narrative if the consumer has presented one and consented to its publication.
  • Whether or not the company has responded to the consumer in a timely fashion and the nature of that response.

These complaints serve several purposes. Most often, they act as sort of a transparent check on finance companies, as anyone can look up complaints about a specific company and find out whether or not the company has responded to that complaint.

However, complaints in the database also serve much more important purposes. They play a role in how the CFPB creates new guidelines, for example. By learning about the ways in which consumers are threatened by financial institutions, the CFPB can develop informed guidelines for those institutions to prevent future harm.

It goes further than that, though. Lenders and other financial entities don’t always play by the rules that have been set out for them, whether by Congress, the CFPB itself, or other consumer watchdogs. Sometimes, complaints submitted to the CFPB can serve as evidence, such as in the lawsuits against Navient, a student loan servicing company.

How the CFPB Handles Complaints

Once the CFPB has collected a complaint, it will forward that complaint to the subject — that’s the company that’s responsible for the alleged issue. The company then has 15 day to respond to the complaint. Once the company has responded or after the 15 days are up, whichever comes first, the CFPB publishes the complaint to their database, where anyone can view it.

Who Can Submit a Complaint?

Essentially, anyone who has had an issue with a financial services provider in the United States can submit a complaint. The CFPB will not check to determine the veracity of your complaints. However, they will check to the ensure that you are involved with the institution that you are complaining about.

How Do You Submit a Consumer Complaint to the CFPB?

In order to submit a complaint of your own, you can go through a process on the CFPB website. You will be asked a series of questions about the nature of your complaint, including questions about how you would categorize the issue and an explanation in your own words about what happened. You will also be asked to provide any documents relevant to your complaint, such as statements, receipts, or letters from the company in question. However, these documents are optional.

After this, you will be asked to identify both the company and yourself. If you have an account number connected to the company in question, then you can provide now, but you are not required to. Finally, you will be able to review your complaint before submitting it. At this time it will be forwarded to the company to await a response.

How Can an Employee or Whistleblower Submit a Complaint?

The CFPB does accept information from employees or whistleblowers who work for a company that is engaged in nefarious acts. If submitted, this information is separate from the Consumer Complaint Database. Unlike complaints, information from whistleblowers will not be forwarded to companies. Employees are also protected from retaliation by their employers following the submission sensitive information to the CFPB.

How To Contact the CFPB

Complaints for the CFPB Complaint Database can be submitted online. However, you can also contact the CFPB in other ways:

By Phone

(855) 411-2372

By Text

(855) 729-2372

Mailing Address for Complaints

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

PO Box 2900

Clinton, IA 52733-2900

Mailing Addresses for Non-Compliant Correspondence

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

1700 G St. N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20552


Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

1900 K St. N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20006

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