CFPB issues new “snapshot” report on consumer complaints

by Ballard Spahr LLP

The CFPB has issued a report on consumer complaints received from July 21, 2011 through June 30, 2014. According to the CFPB’s “Snapshot,” it handled approximately 395,300 complaints during this period, with its Consumer Complaint Database listing more than 254,800 complaints as of July 1, 2014. (The report indicates that the database only lists complaints submitted to the CFPB that companies have had an opportunity to respond to and does not include complaints referred from other agencies, found to incomplete, or that are pending with the consumer or the CFPB.)

Of the approximately 395,300 complaints handled by the CFPB, 34% involved mortgages, 20% debt collection, 14% credit cards, 12% credit reporting, 12% bank accounts and services, 3% consumer loans, 3% student loans, 1% payday loans, 0.5% money transfers, and 0.5% “other.” Of the complaints received, approximately 56% were submitted through the CFPB’s website, 10% via telephone calls, 24% via referrals, with the balance submitted by mail, e-mail and fax.

For each product, the report indicates the most common types of complaints received by the CFPB. For example, the most common type of mortgage complaint involved problems faced by consumers when they are unable to make payments, such as issues related to loan modifications, collections or foreclosures. The most common type of debt collection complaint was about continued attempts to collect a debt that was not owed, with the consumer’s problem in many cases involving the calculation of the underlying debt rather than the attempt to collect the debt itself.

The CFPB began taking payday loan complaints in November 2013. In its Consumer Response Annual Report analyzing complaints handled in 2013, the CFPB provided information on the approximately 1,000 payday loan complaints it received in 2013. According to the new report, as of June 30, 2014, the CFPB received approximately 2,400 additional payday loan complaints. Similar to the approximately 1,000 complaints analyzed in the 2013 report, in the approximately 3,400 complaints analyzed in the new report (which includes the 1,000 complaints from 2013), the most common type of payday loan advance complaint issues involved unexpected charges for fees or interest or applying for a loan but not receiving the money. Unlike the 2013 report, the new report includes information about the types of payday loans consumers complained about. It indicates that 63% of the complaints involved online loans, 10% involved in store loans, and 27% did not state the loan type.

Companies reported that 11% of complaints were reported with monetary relief. As the reporting of an amount of monetary relief is optional, the CFPB’s analysis of relief amounts is based on information reported as to the more than 30,300 complaints for which companies reported relief amounts. The median relief amount was $150, with the highest median relief amounts reported for mortgage complaints (approximately $445), student loan complaints (approximately $295), payday loan complaints ($310), and debt collection complaints ($339).  

Last week, the CFPB issued a proposal to add consumer complaint narratives to the complaint data it publicly discloses in the database. The proposal was discussed at a CFPB field hearing last week held in El Paso, Texas.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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