NEW REPORT: ‘Big 3’ credit bureaus garner most consumer complaints in record-setting year

Media Contacts
Ed Mierzwinski

Sr. Director of Federal Consumer Program, 202-461-3821, [email protected]

WASHINGTON — Complaints to the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau about credit reporting problems nearly doubled from 2021 to 2022, according to an analysis released Thursday by the U.S. PIRG Education Fund. At the top of this dubious list: the so-called “Big 3” credit bureaus — TransUnion, Equifax and Experian — received more complaints than any other financial firms in 2022.

“I’ve studied credit reporting complaints for over 30 years, yet I cannot comprehend how little the credit bureaus’ poor treatment of consumers has changed,” said Ed Mierzwinski, senior director for federal consumer programs at U.S. PIRG Education Fund. “When Americans describe a system rigged against them in the stories they file into the CFPB database, it’s unfortunately not surprising — I’ve seen it all before.”

Among the key findings of the report, “Big Credit Bureaus, Record Complaints: a look at increases in CFPB consumer complaints 2021-2022:

  • Complaints against the Big 3 credit bureaus totaled 69% of all complaints in 2022. The Top Ten most-complained-about companies totaled 78% of all complaints.

  • The CFPB compiles complaints in nine product categories. Complaints in the eight categories besides credit reporting rose slightly from 2021 to 2022, led by more complaints regarding student loans, checking and savings accounts and credit card or prepaid card complaints.

  • New financial technologies cracked the Top Ten. The 10th-most common national complaint was “frauds and scams” in the digital wallet, virtual currency and credit repair sub-product categories.

  • On a per-capita basis, consumers in Georgia, Delaware, Florida, the District of Columbia and Alabama filed the most complaints.

U.S. PIRG Education Fund based its analysis on a study of complaint totals in the CFPB’s public consumer complaint database. To aid consumers, reporters and others, PIRG is also releasing a short video showing how easy it is to use the database.

Thursday’s report is Part 1 of a 2 part series on the CFPB. This report discusses problems. The upcoming report discusses solutions. Next Thursday, March 16, we will release “Watching Wall Street: Top 20 Actions the CFPB Took in 2022 Making the Marketplace Safer for Consumers.”

“For the CFPB to do its only job, protecting consumers, as effectively as possible, it’s important to hear directly from people what’s going wrong,” said U.S. PIRG Education Fund Consumer Campaign Director Mike Litt. “The complaints in this database act like an alarm system. When the CFPB reads them, it’s alerted to problems, who the culprits are and what actions it needs to take.”

Mierzwinski concluded, “We wouldn’t have this research without a strong CFPB. Now, more than ever, we need this robust database to hold credit bureaus, banks, debt collectors and other firms accountable to consumers.”


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