LAS VEGAS — Powersports lenders should be cautious of how they handle consumer complaints, because there are “plenty” of complaints involving powersports in the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s consumer complaint portal and regulators are “taking note,” said Molly Calkins, partner of the Consumer Financial Services Practice Group at Akerman LLP.
“The bureau looks at consumer complaints whether received directly or through other sources like complaints.com,” Calkins told attendees at PowerSports Finance 2016. “The CFPB’s consumer complaint portal publishes complaints for all of the world to see, including other customers, consumer advocacy groups, or other state and federal regulators.”
To prevent complaints from getting published in the portal, lenders need to handle the complaints carefully and adhere to all the relative timelines, she said, but lenders should also be cautious of whistleblower tips.
“Whistleblower tips differ from consumer complaints in that whistleblowers are inside the company or industry,” Calkins explained. “The bureau actively solicits whistleblower tips via a telephone hotline and an online channel.”
Additionally, the bureau may be gathering information about a company from third parties, such as vendors and service providers, she said. “So just because you haven’t heard from the CFPB directly, doesn’t mean it’s not looking at your company. That information gathered in one investigation could launch another investigation involving other companies. It’s like replacing one part on a vehicle which often requires you to replace other parts.”