Consumers routinely file written complaints about one of the businesses we license, and include documents containing their names, addresses, phone numbers, and financial details such as account numbers and dollar amounts involved. Should you wish to request copies of all complaints about a particular business, the Texas Public Information Act requires that we withhold either the complainant’s personal financial data or any personal identifiers (name, address, etc.). Therefore, if you wanted to know who made the complaints, we would provide the identifying information but withhold any personal financial details. On the other hand, if you wanted to focus on the financial aspects of complaints, we would provide those details and withhold any information identifying the complainants.
In order to protect the personal financial privacy of consumers, our requestors can either receive the consumer identifiers or the personal financial information. In other words, you can receive the names or the numbers, but not both. With consumer complaints, you have two choices on how you would like the information to be redacted (redacted means that we will remove or obscure this information):
- By redacting the personal financial information (i.e., you would receive the information concerning the complainants' identities but not any of the specifics on their transactions; redactions would include items such as dollar amounts and interest rates); OR
- By redacting the complainant identifiers (i.e., you would receive the personal financial information but not any information that could identify the complainants; redactions would include complainant names, addresses, phone numbers, etc.).
Some items will be redacted either way as they fall under specific exceptions under the Texas Public Information Act or other statutes. Such redactions would include: social security numbers, driver's license numbers, personal email addresses, etc.
Complaint Scope Preference
You also have three possible options on the scope of the complaint information you may request, depending on the volume of consumer complaint information you wish to receive.
First, you may receive a basic spreadsheet of complaints provided at no cost, including the following fields:
- dates the complaints were filed and closed;
- number of days open;
- company master file and license numbers;
- company addresses and phone/fax numbers; company representatives (if provided); and
- types of complaints (e.g., interest rate, charges/fees, collections).
Second, you may receive complaint summaries, which are one or two page summaries of the complaints from beginning to end. Some of our requestors in this situation request the summaries and then submit a new request to select complaint file(s) in their entirety about which they would like more information.
Full Complaint Files
Third, you can request the full complaint files for written complaints containing supplementary documents (for complaints received over the last four years). Complaint files received more than four years ago are destroyed in accordance with record retention requirements. Receipt of the full files can be very expensive, depending on the number of complaints responsive to your request.
In sum, it is most helpful to include the following preferences in your initial request for consumer complaints:
Redaction preference: redaction of the personal financial information, or redaction of the complainant identifiers.
Complaint scope reference: receive spreadsheet, complaint summaries, or the full complaint files.