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CFPB Complaints on the Rise

While the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s new director entertains removing its consumer complaint database from public view, that website feature is proving its worth. The CFPB published a record 257,000 consumer complaints in 2018, according to a new report by U.S. PIRG Education Fund.

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U.S. PIRG

Executive Summary

Created in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or CFPB, has been a critical ally for consumers in the financial marketplace. Throughout its history, the CFPB has secured $12.4 billion in relief for more than 31 million wronged consumers,1 provided recourse to consumers facing problems with financial companies, and acted against companies that break the law.

In late 2011, the CFPB established its “Consumer Complaint Database,” which is meant to facilitate resolutions to problems faced by consumers and hold companies accountable. The CFPB has received more than 1.5 million complaints and published 1,197,145 of them as of January 14th, 2019.2 3 In 2018, the CFPB published more than 257,000 complaints, more than any previous year. In about 97% of cases, companies respond to consumers in a timely manner.

The CFPB database can be searched and filtered by several criteria, including by company, by product, by state, and by response from the company. Using this data set, we were able to identify problems in the financial marketplace, as well as suggest actions that can improve consumers’ financial experiences. In this report, we analyze the complaint database on a national and state level and provide recommendations for how to protect consumers.

Key findings include:

● Nearly half of the complaints in the database are filed against ten companies: Equifax, Experian, TransUnion, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, Citibank, Capital One, Navient, and Ocwen.

● The three nationwide credit reporting agencies – Equifax (9% of complaints), Experian (8%) and TransUnion (7%) – are the most complained about companies in the database. They have also been the most complained about companies for each of the past four years.

● “Credit reporting, credit repair services, or other personal consumer reports” complaints made up 43% of total complaints in 2018, up from 23% of total complaints in 2016.

● “Credit reporting, credit repair services, or other personal consumer reports” is the most complained about product category in 29 states and the District of Columbia, with Equifax receiving the most complaints in 25 states and the District of Columbia.

● 69% of complaints in the database are about three products: “credit reporting, credit repair services, or other personal consumer reports,” “mortgage,” and “debt collection.”

● 97 percent of complaints received a timely response. Additionally, more than 223,000 complaints resulted in relief for consumers, including more than 75,000 who received monetary relief from the companies they complained about.

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