CFPB Releases Annual Report on Consumer Complaints

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released its Consumer Response Annual Report on April 6th, outlining its efforts from July 21 to December 31, 2011 in handling consumer complaints. As the report describes, the CFPB began accepting consumer complaints about credit cards on July 21, 2011, began handling mortgage complaints on December 1, 2011, and began accepting complaints about bank products and services, private student loans, and other consumer loans on March 1, 2012. The CFPB anticipates accepting complaints about non-depository institutions later in 2012. The report includes tables outlining the most common types of complaints which include, for credit cards, billing disputes (13.7%), identity theft/fraud/embezzlement (10.9%), and APR or interest rate (10.2%) complaints. The CFPB collected 9,307 credit card complaints from July 21 to December 31, 2011. It also collected 2,326 mortgage complaints in December 2011, with the most common complaints involving problems when a consumer is unable to pay (38.2%), is making payments (21.5%) or is applying for the loan (10.1%).

The CFPB reported that approximately 75 percent of complaints received were sent to companies for review and response and companies responded to approximately 88 percent of complaints forwarded. Companies reported closing over 55 percent of complaints with relief, which is defined as objective, measurable, and verifiable monetary value to the consumer,” and approximately 31 percent of cases were closed without monetary relief. When a company responds that a complaint is closed with relief” or closed without relief,” consumers are given the option to dispute the response. Nearly 40 percent of consumers did not dispute the company’s response and approximately 13 percent did dispute the response. The remainder of closed complaints were still pending with consumers at the time the period closed.

The CFPB’s Consumer Response team reviews and investigates complaints and complaints may be used to identify product- and issue-specific trends. The Consumer Response team may also refer complaints to the Division of Supervision, Enforcement, and Fair Lending and Equal Opportunity for further action, which could include investigations or enforcement actions. As a result, companies should pay careful attention to complaints received through the CFPB’s system and complaint trends may indicate future Bureau direction.