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CFPB — Consumer Complaint Best Practices

Q: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau ("CFPB") focuses on consumer complaints. What are some best practices related to consumer complaint management?

A: The CFPB has indicated that consumer complaint management is a key component of a mortgage lender’s complaint management system. There are several proactive measures a mortgage lender should take to assist with consumer complaint management. For instance, all mortgage lenders should maintain a detailed consumer complaint policy that outlines how the mortgage lender handles complaints. Specifically, the policy should include the mortgage lender’s procedures with regard to identifying, acknowledging receipt of, and logging complaints, Further, the policy should detail the individual or individuals responsible for investigating and responding to complaints, timing requirements related thereto, and training of employees with regarding to handling of consumer complaints. It is especially important to train front-line employees, such as processors and loan originators, as well as receptionists and other consumer-facing employees. These individuals must understand how to initially respond and escalate the complaint to the appropriate channels. Lenders that utilize borrower surveys should also strongly consider having their Compliance Department review such responses to identify any negative feedback and treat such negative comments as complaints.

In addition to a consumer complaint policy, it is important for mortgage lenders to maintain a consumer complaint log for tracking and trending purposes. Information contained on the log should include, but may not be limited to, complainant name and contact information, the source of the complaint (i.e. borrower survey, CFPB complaint database, etc.), the employees involved, a brief description of the complaint and resolution, relevant dates (i.e. date received, date resolved), and particular issues involved (i.e. origination, servicing, fair lending, etc.).

The Company should review complaints regularly and any recognized trends should serve as a basis for the implementation of policies and/or training to help eliminate the potential root causes. A common best practice is also to include a summary presentation of complaints as part of a mortgage lender’s Board of Directors’ or Senior Management meetings to ensure Board oversight and involvement.

Finally, it is important that mortgage lenders adequately monitor for complaints. This includes ensuring employees understand reporting requirements in relation to complaints, as well as confirming contact information is up to date and accurate for various sources of complaints, such as the Better Business Bureau, state regulatory agencies and the CFPB complaint database.


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