Unlike CFPB’s “Snapshot,” PIRG report reveals which debt collectors Americans file complaints about most

Media Contacts
Ed Mierzwinski

Senior Director, Federal Consumer Program, U.S. PIRG Education Fund

New CFPB report on consumer complaints fails to disclose offending companies’ names

U.S. PIRG Education Fund

For a new report, U.S. PIRG Education Fund accessed the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s public complaint database to reveal and rank the debt collectors American consumers complain about the most. Acting CFPB Director Mick Mulvaney has long hinted at restricting public access to the database, which provides this helpful information to consumers.

“Our researchers could only gather this information with the help of the CFPB’s public complaint database, which helps consumers decide where to — and where not to — take their business,” said Ed Mierzwinski, senior director for U.S. PIRG Education Fund’s consumer program. “Unfortunately, the Bureau’s acting director Mick Mulvaney has threatened to shut down the public database, which will only benefit corporate wrongdoers who want to hide their practices from the public.”

The CFPB unveiled its latest irregularly-released Complaint “Snapshot” of debt collection complaints on May 31st . However, the Snapshot divulged little information about debt collection complaints and none about specific companies. Mierzwinski added that, “If the CFPB both shuts down the public database and continues to issue industry-friendly reports that don’t give out any real information, the public and marketplace harm is even greater.”

Gideon Weissman, the Frontier Group analyst who co-authored the report, added, “While we only found scant details in the Snapshot, the robust public Consumer Complaint Database reveals that the 10 companies Americans complained most about are responsible for more than one-fifth of all complaints and four of those Top 10 – Encore Capital Group, Portfolio Recovery Associates, Citibank and Transworld – have been cited by the CFPB for consumer mistreatment.”

The report is the 13th in an ongoing series based on analyses of the public database by U.S. PIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group. It follows “Shining Light On Consumer Problems,” a white paper released yesterday and filed as a public comment to the CFPB’s Request for Information on the Public Complaint Database.

U.S. PIRG Education Fund is urging the CFPB to:

  • Maintain public access to a vibrant, transparent and complete consumer complaint database that encourages consumers, competitors, academics, other researchers and the complained-about-companies themselves to study ways to make the marketplace work better.
  • Restore the CFPB’s practice of publishing detailed, more regular monthly complaint reports that include analysis of complaints ranked by individual companies.

  • Reinstate delayed or terminated rulemakings, investigations and enforcement actions.

“The CFPB public Consumer Complaint Database has more than one million consumer complaints in it. It is just one of several searchable consumer complaint databases available to the public. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has safercar.gov and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has saferproducts.gov,” added U.S. PIRG Education Fund Consumer Campaign Director Mike Litt.

“Unfortunately, making the database inaccessible to the public is just one of numerous efforts by Acting Director Mick Mulvaney to hobble the CFPB’s ability to do its job,” concluded Litt. “It’s time for the president to nominate a permanent director who believes in the CFPB’s only job, protecting consumers. It’s time for Mick Mulvaney to go.”


U.S. PIRG Education Fund is an independent, non-partisan group that works for consumers and the public interest. Through research, public education and outreach, we serve as counterweights to the influence of powerful special interests that threaten our health, safety or well-being.

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