CFPB December 2016 complaint report highlights debt collection complaints, complaints from Arizona consumers

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The CFPB has issued its December 2016 complaint report which highlights complaints about debt collection.  The report also highlights complaints from consumers in Arizona and the Phoenix metro area.

General findings include the following:

  • As of December 1, 2016, the CFPB handled approximately 1,058,100 complaints nationally, including approximately 23,100 complaints in November 2016.
  • Debt collection continued to be the most-complained-about financial product or service in November 2016, representing about 29 percent of complaints submitted.  Debt collection complaints, together with complaints about credit reporting and mortgages, collectively represented about 64 percent of the complaints submitted in November 2016.
  • Complaints about student loans showed the greatest percentage increase based on a three-month average, increasing about 120 percent from the same time last year (September to November 2015 compared with September to November 2016).  In February 2016, the CFPB began accepting complaints about federal student loans.  Previously, such complaints were directed to the Department of Education.  As we have noted in blog posts about prior complaint reports issued beginning in April 2016, rather than reflecting an increase in the number of borrowers making student loan complaints, the increase most likely reflects the change in where such complaints are sent.
  • Prepaid card complaints showed the greatest percentage decrease based on a three-month average, decreasing about 59 percent from the same time last year (September to November 2015 compared with September to November 2016).  Complaints during those periods decreased from 444 complaints in 2015 to 183 complaints in 2016.  Prepaid cards also showed the greatest decrease based on a three-month average in the November 2016 complaint report.
  • Iowa, Georgia, and Alaska experienced the greatest complaint volume increases from the same time last year (September to November 2015 compared with September to November 2016) with increases of, respectively, 39, 37, and 35 percent.
  • Vermont, Rhode Island, and Idaho experienced the greatest complaint volume decreases from the same time last year (September to November 2015 compared with September to November 2016) with decreases of, respectively, 23, 20, and 17 percent.

Findings regarding other financial services complaints include the following:

  • The CFPB has handled approximately 285,000 debt collection complaints.
  • The most common type of debt collection complaint (39 percent) involved consumers reporting they were contacted about debts that they no longer owed and were not provided documentation to verify the debt, even after submitting requests for verification.  Consumers complained that their accounts were forwarded to third-party collectors without any prior contact from the original creditors about an outstanding balance or that their accounts were not in delinquent status prior to being contacted by third-party collectors.  A frequent complaint involved reported attempts by third-party collectors to collect incorrect balances on medical debt.
  • Consumers complained about frequent and repeated calls, including calls to their places of employment after having informed collectors that contact at work was prohibited by their employers.

Findings regarding complaints from Arizona consumers include the following:

  • As of December 1, 2016, approximately 23,300 complaints were submitted by Arizona consumers of which approximately 64 percent (about 15,000) were from Phoenix consumers.
  • Debt collection was the most-complained-about product, representing 30 percent of all complaints submitted by Arizona consumers and, on a national basis, 27 percent of all complaints submitted by consumers.
  • Average monthly complaints received from Arizona consumers increased 14 percent from the same time last year (September to November 2015 to September to November 2016), higher than the increase of 13 percent nationally.

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