Is the CFPB Really Ready?

This past week the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau began taking complaints regarding mortgages.Their initial pilot project encompassed credit card complaints numbering a bit north of 5,000 over the past three months. 

About two thirds of those have been resolved so far, an admirable pull-through rate for an agency still in its infancy.Even so, is the CFPB really ready to handle the deluge of mortgage related complaints that federal regulators estimated to be around 48,000 just last year?

Even though delinquencies have dropped foreclosures are expected to jump as the pipeline of properties caught up in the robo-signing mess continues to be corrected.The estimates of complaints from last year may be a bit skewed and the true number of “new” complaints could conceivably be much larger in 2012. 

The CFPB consumer facing website is relatively simple with free form information and click boxes comprising the majority of the interface. 

This user friendly site gathers basic information regarding the issue, consumers desired resolution, consumer information, product information and finally review.For those that do not have access to a computer or prefer a different medium, there is also a toll-free hotline available.

The CFPB has been rather low key in pushing out these communication channels to the general public and given the expected response it would not be hard to envision a system crash once the program gains momentum. 

The most unforgivable sin of course is to throw consumers into the revolving door of automated voice response hell that they may have gotten a dose of when trying to work through their mortgage problems initially.As part of the planned roll out, the CFPB has already aligned themselves with other regulators to assist in processing complaints, and also plans to add an additional 150 employees in the foreseeable future. 

Given the expected volume of complaints and the already overburdened agencies this may fall short of the mark…we certainly hope not.

Having an agency for consumers to file their mortgage related complaints and work through their issues is vital to the recovery of the industry. As we improve as an industry we need to have access and a full vision of all issues and the subsequent metrics generated by the CFPB to amend and enhance our internal operational processes. 

In the words of Winston Churchill, “Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.”

Diane Gozza is an executive vice president at Dallas based, Integrated Mortgage Solutions.