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Money, Debt & the Law 102: A Look at the National Landscape

September 22, 2015

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or CFPB, recently issued it's Monthly Complaint Report for August 2015.

The CFPB is the first federal agency that is totally focused on consumer financial protection. Consumer complaints are an integral and increasingly significant part of that work. Over the past 4 years, the agency has phased in an expanding program for handling complaints, beginning with credit card and mortgage complaints in 2011; bank services, student loans, consumer loans and credit reporting in 2012; money transfers, debt collection, and payday loans in 2013, and prepaid cards, credit repair, debt settlement, pawn and title loans, and virtual currency in 2014.

In July of this year, the agency started  issuing monthly reports about the complaints. Now let's take a look at the agency's second and most recent monthly report, issued in August.

The report analyzes recent complaints from 3 different perspectives: by product, by state, and by company. It also includes sections that spotlight a particular product, and a specific geographic area.

Today, we'll zoom in on what has been happening with complaint volume by product.

In July of this year, the agency fielded over 26,000 complaints across these 9 categories of products: consumer loans, credit reporting, money transfers, credit cards, student loans, payday loans, mortgages, debt collection and bank services.

The agency compared the volume increase in each category over last year for May-July of each year and found the biggest increase in complaints in consumer loans (61% increase), credit reporting (45% increase), money transfers (28% increase), and credit cards (24% increase). Increases in each of the other categories was below 15%. And in the case of debt collection and bank services actually fell by a small percentage.

Despite the slight drop in debt collection complaints compared to last year, this product, debt collection complaints are still one of the three leading categories of complaint overall, with over 171,000 complaints since the agency started keeping stats, out of a total of 670,000 plus complaints overall.

Mortgage complaints, at 187,916 total, and credit reporting complaints, at 105,477 are first and third in volume of complaints.

Together, these top three categories of complaints represent about 73% of complaints submitted in July 2015.

Here's how some individual states rank in terms of volume of complaints: Hawaii, Maine, and Georgia experienced the greatest volume percentage increase over the year; South Dakota, New Mexico, and Arkansas experienced the greatest volume percentage decrease. Of the most populous states, New York experienced the greatest percentage volume increase (29%).

Of the ten most complained about companies, Equifax, Experian, and Bank of America were the top 3.

On Tuesday, September 29, in a live webinar, we'll take a more in depth look at what these statistics mean, and their importance to AFPCE members and certified professionals.

Guest Contributor: Marcy Einhorn, Esq.


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