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From Banking and Finance Law Daily, July 17, 2015

CFPB unwraps new complaint snapshots on eve of bureau birthday

By Katalina M. Bianco, J.D.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau launched the first in a new monthly series of complaint snapshots, just days from the CFPB’s four-year anniversary on July 21. One of the key accomplishments the CFPB has noted in papers documenting the last four years is the large amount of complaints the bureau has handled since opening its doors. This new series adds to the CFPB’s consumer complaint tools, including its Consumer Complaint Database.

The handling of consumer complaints is “a key element of our work,” CFPB Director Richard Cordray, said in prepared remarks for an appearance at the Americans for Financial Reform bureau anniversary event. Referring to the new monthly snapshots, Cordray said that “they provide a high-level snapshot of trends and analyses found in the consumer complaints we receive.” The Director said they can be used as a tool to inform the public, the industry, researchers, reporters, and everyone interested in the financial marketplace.

The monthly reports include complaint data on company performance, complaint volume, state and local information, and product trends, the bureau said. Each month, the report will spotlight a particular product and geographic location—this report provides a closer look at debt collection complaints and complaints from consumers in Milwaukee, Wis.

Complaint highlights. The first report provides complaint highlights as of July 1, 2015, and includes the following information on complaints received by the bureau:

  • Complaint volume: In June, the most complaints received were about debt collection, representing about 32 percent of all complaints.

  • Product trends: Consumer loan complaints showed the greatest percentage increase from the same time last year, nearly doubling.

  • State information: Hawaii, West Virginia, and Maine experienced the greatest complaint volume increases from the same time last year.

  • Most-complained about companies: The top three companies that received the most complaints for February through April 2015 were Equifax, Experian, and Bank of America.

Product spotlight. The CFPB has handled more than 163,000 debt collection complaints. The most common complaint is continued attempts by debt collectors to collect debts the consumers do not owe. The second most common complaint is about debt collection communication tactics. Consumers complain that they are being contacted too often or at inconvenient times of the day. The top three most-complained-about companies, without normalization, were Enhanced Recovery Company, Encore Capital Group, and Portfolio Recovery Associates.

Geographic spotlight. As of July 1, 2015, about 7,700 complaints of the 650,700 complaints the CFPB has handled have been from consumers in Wisconsin. Of complaints from consumers in Wisconsin, 34 percent are from consumers in the Milwaukee metro area. Although the CFPB reports that it has handled more mortgage than debt collection complaints overall, debt collection is the number one complaint area for Milwaukee. Consumers in Milwaukee also make fewer credit reporting complaints than consumers nationally. However, among the most-complained-about companies, without normalization, in the May 2014 to April 15 period were the three credit reporting companies—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

Companies: Bank of America; Encore Capital Group; Enhanced Recovery Company; Equifax; Experian; Portfolio Recovery Associates; TransUnion

MainStory: TopStory CFPB CommunityDevelopment DebtCollection FairCreditReporting Mortgages

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