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Credit Card Complaints Made Public

NEW YORK ( LowCards.com) -- Ever wanted to know which is the most hated credit card provider of all?

Despite protests from the financial industry, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has made its online credit card complaint database available to the public since last week. The information won't just be good for consumers of the Consumerist-mold looking to be entertained by the zaniest comments and most tone-deaf responses from banks. It can be used to obtain invaluable advice on how to get the most from your credit card company when it's time to complain, as well as how to avoid the worst before a complaint is even necessary.

The information shows which issuers have had the most complaints on their cards and how specific complaints were ultimately handled. The data can be viewed online by company, consumer zip code and type of complaint.

The CFPB began taking credit card complaints on July 21, 2011. Through June 1, 2012, the Bureau had received nearly 17,000 credit card complaints.

Billing disputes are the most common complaint, followed by interest rate issues. More than 2,000 complaints received financial compensation from the issuer to the consumer with $25 being the most common amount of compensation (the median amount was $130).

"By making our data publicly available, initially in the area of credit cards, we hope to improve the transparency and efficiency of this essential consumer market," said CFPB Director Richard Cordray in a statement .

Until now, complaints against lenders were kept private. There was no way to include complaints or response rates when comparing credit card issuers.

The CFPB will update the database. It reviews each complaint and forwards the ones that meet its criteria to the appropriate company for review and resolution. Companies have 15 days to provide a response to each consumer complaint. Most complaints are expected to be resolved and closed within 60 days. The filer can track the progress of the complaint and dispute the resolution provided by the financial institution. If the CFPB finds possible legal violations, it will work with other parts of the Bureau to deal with potential violation. The database will not include private information.

The CFPB may expand its database to include complaints on other financial products and consumer loans such as mortgages and private student loans.

And of course, feel free to complain. Consumers wishing to file a complaint about credit cards may do so on the CFPB website here .

--By Bill Hardekopf

Bill Hardekopf is chief executive of LowCards.com, which compares and rates more than 1,000 credit cards. He is the co-author of "The Credit Card Guidebook."

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