The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recently announced that consumer complaint volume nearly doubled from 91,000 complaints in 2012 to 163,700 complaints in 2013. This was highlighted in the recent release of the 2013 Consumer Response Annual report.
The CFPB, created by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, handles consumer complaints as a main component of its work. Initially, the bureau handled credit card complaints then expanded to include mortgages, bank accounts and services, private student loans, vehicle, and other consumer loans in 2012. In 2013 it expanded the complaints even further to include money transfers, debt collection and payday loans.
The complaints received in 2013 represent an 80% increase over those received in 2012. The top 3 complaints in 2013 were mortgages, debt collection and credit reporting. Mortgage complaints represented 37% of all complaints. Consumers were most concerned with mortgages when they were unable to pay due to modifications, collections and foreclosures. Debt Collection accounted for 19% with consumers mostly concerned with communication tactics by collectors, debts that were not owed and the threat of illegal action. Credit reporting accounted for 15% with consumers being concerned with incorrect information on their report.
Companies have responded promptly to 93% of the complaints sent to them. Consumers have disputed only 21% of the company responses. Consumers have received a range of non-monetary relief in response to their complaints. Such relief included debt collector protection, credit reports corrected and lines restored, mortgage foreclosure alternatives, and customer service.
Information about the consumer complaints is available to the public through the CFPB's Consumer Complaint database. A complaint is listed as public once the company responds or after 15 days of being sent the complaint, whichever is first. The database is updated nightly. The complaints inform the bureau and help identify problems. These are then handled by supervision and enforcement.