WASHINGTON -- The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is launching a database that tracks which large banks have had the most complaints about their credit cards and how they were resolved -- information some industry trade groups don't want made public.
The goal of the searchable database is to provide more information to consumers, businesses, and advocacy groups about an important financial product, said Richard Cordray, the agency's director.
It will be limited at first to credit card complaints received since June 1 for banks with more than $10 billion in assets.
The beta version of the Consumer Complaint Database was made available Tuesday at the agency's Web site, www.consumerfinance.gov. The goal is to expand it to include more of the thousands of credit card complaints for large banks the agency has received since it opened in July, Mr. Cordray said.
The agency wants the database to include complaints about mortgages and other financial products.
But some financial industry trade groups have opposed making the database information public. The American Bankers Association said it would be a public "outing" of a bank's relationship with its customers based on "incomplete, unrepresentative, and unverified" data.
"Disclosure of these complaints in a public database is going to be seen as government imprimatur of unverified complaints, the accuracy of which nobody can stand up and stand behind," said Richard Riese, a vice president at the group's Center for Regulatory Compliance.
He also said it was unfair that the database won't cover smaller banks. The agency directly supervises only large banks for compliance with consumer protection laws.
Ed Mierzwinski, consumer program director for the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, said the database will help customers level the playing field with companies.
"Nobody wants to be first on this list, so that means companies will improve their complaint handling, improve their responsiveness," he said.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is not the first agency to make complaints about companies public, Mr. Mierzwinski said. The Consumer Product Safety Commission, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the Department of Transportation have searchable public databases.