Complaining About Your Bank: Should It Be Public?

Posted by | May 13, 2011 13:13 | Filed under: Top Stories

by Stuart Shapiro

I tell my students all the time that public policy is about tradeoffs.  Any politician who tells you that a policy is win-win or doesn’t have any costs is lying to you or to herself (or possibly both).  The tradeoffs are clear as the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau implements a requirement to set up a hotline for consumers to complain about products or services offered by their banks.

At issue is what happens after they’re filed.

Nonprofit groups such as Consumers Union and the Sunlight Foundation are pushing for an open system that would allow anyone to scan the raw submissions. Industry groups including the American Bankers Association argue that making them public could allow frivolous complaints to damage reputable brands.

I tend to err on the side of disclosure and transparency.  Doing so gives banks an incentive to clean up their acts and treat their customers respectfully and honestly.  But make no mistake about it, false complaints will find their way into the public database and some responsible banks will suffer the consequences.  Tradeoffs, tradeoffs, tradeoffs.

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Copyright 2011 Liberaland
By: Stuart Shapiro

Stuart is a professor and the Director of the Public Policy
program at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers
University. He teaches economics and cost-benefit analysis and studies
regulation in the United States at both the federal and state levels.
Prior to coming to Rutgers, Stuart worked for five years at the Office
of Management and Budget in Washington under Presidents Clinton and
George W. Bush.

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