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Consumer Complaints Hit 677,000, CFPB Reports

August 27, 2015

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released a report Tuesday highlighting trends in consumer complaints through August 1, with credit reporting complaints seeing the sharpest increase compared to both the prior month and prior year.

The bureau has handled approximately 105,000 credit reporting complaints since it began accepting them in October 2012. Those complaints jumped 56% between June 2015 (4,289 complaints) and July 2015 (6,969 complaints). In analyzing the period of May through July 2015, complaints increased by 45% compared to the prior year.  

Of those complaints,77% involved incorrect information on reports. Consumers frequently complained of debts already paid or debts not yet due showing up on their report, negatively affecting their credit scores. The CFPB said that consumers also had trouble accessing their reports as a result of rigorous online identity authentication questions.

The three companies that received the highest volumes of credit reporting complaints were Equifax, Experian and Transunion, which accounted for 97% of credit reporting complaints.

Overall, the bureau has handled 677,200 complaints nationally. In July, the most complained about financial product or service was debt collection, representing about 31% of complaints submitted. The second most-complained-about consumer product was credit reporting, accounting for approximately 6,696 complaints. The third most-complained-about financial product or service was mortgages, accounting for approximately 4,498 complaints. The CFPB did not list auto loans amount the 11 credit products that triggered complaints.

The bureau reported that in a year-to-year comparison, consumer loan complaints, which include pawn loans, title loans, and installment loans, showed the greatest percentage increase (61%) from the same time last year. They went from approximately 718 complaints to 1,154 complaints on average per month over a three-month time period. Bank account or services complaints showed the greatest percentage decrease over the same time period, going from a monthly average of 1,976 complaints in 2014 to 1,895 complaints in 2015 — a 4% decrease.

Hawaii, Maine, Georgia, and North Carolina experienced the greatest complaint volume increases from the same time last year, with Hawaii up 37%, Maine up 36%, and both Georgia and North Carolina up by 33%. South Dakota, New Mexico, and Alaska experienced the greatest complaint volume decrease from the same time last year, with South Dakota down 31%, New Mexico down 16%, and Arkansas down 11%.

"Whether a consumer is trying to get a mortgage, apply for a student loan, or buy a car, credit reports are fundamentally important in allowing people to access their financial goals,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray in a press release. “As we see a rise in the number of consumers complaining about this issue, the Bureau will continue to work to ensure that credit reports are fair, accurate, and readily available to all consumers.”

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