In March 2012, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) began accepting complaints from consumers about bank accounts, including checking, savings, CDs, and related financial products and services. Consumers were able to submit complaints about poor customer service experiences with banks and financial institutions.
Later during 2012, the CFPB began accepting complaints about student loans, credit cards, and credit reporting. In April 2013, the CFPB began accepting complaints about money transfers. In March 2013, the CFPB expanded the database to include mortgage complaints received since December 1, 2011. This expansion also included the addition of complaints about bank accounts private student loans, and other consumer loans received since March 1, 2012.
In March 2013, the CFPB went live with its Consumer Complaints Database. Some facts about it:
- Contains complaints submitted by more than 90,000 consumers
- Includes 450 companies
- Total complaints received - 131,500
- Complaints cover bank accounts, mortgages, student loans, credit cards, and related consumer loans
- Complaints about credit reporting (e.g., credit reports, credit reporting agencies) will be added later
- 48% of complaints were submited through the CFPB website
- 9% of complaints were submitted bia telephone
- 32% of complaints were received from other rgulators and agencies
- At February 28, 2013, the CFPB sent 109,200 complaints (83%) to companies for review and response. Companies have already responded to 104,100 (95%) of those complaints sent
A typical complaint includes:
"... he type of complaint, the date of submission, the consumer’s ZIP code, and the company that the complaint concerns. The database also includes information about the actions taken on a complaint by those companies – whether the company’s response was timely, how the company responded, and whether the consumer disputed the company’s response. A consumer’s identity and other personal information is not included in the data."
So, similar to reports provided the BBB, the CFPB also tracks the status of complaint resolutionl. The CFPB goes further and includes resolution amounts.
In its summary report, the CFPB listed complaints by financial product type:
The CFPB has received 30,600 credit card complaints. The analysis of credit card complaints received by type:
|Credit Card Complaint Type||%|
|Annual Percentage Rate (APR) or interest rate||10%|
|Identity Theft, Fraud, Embezzlement
|Closing, Cancel Account
|Credit Card Protection, Debt Protection
|Collection Debt Dispute
|Total: top 10 credit card complaint types
Of the 30,600 credit card complaints received, the CFPB has forwarded 27,700 (84%) to financial institutions for review and response, and forwarded 10% to other regulatory agencies. 5% of credit card complaints are considered incomplete, and 1% are pending. Companies have already responded to 24,800 (96%) of the complaints forwarded. The CFPB also reported:
"Since December 2011, companies have also had the option of reporting the amount of monetary relief, if any. The median amount of relief reported was approximately $125 with $25 being the most common amount of relief for the approximately 5,300 credit card complaints where companies reported relief. Consumers have disputed approximately 4,200 company responses (18%) to credit card complaints."
The types of mortgage complaints received by the CFPB:
The types of bank account and service complaints received by the CFPB:
The types of student loan complaints received by the CFPB:
The types of consumer loan complaints received by the CFPB:
The types of credit reporting complaints received by the CFPB:
Also, BusinessWeek summed it up quite nicely the impacts of the CFPB Consumer Complaints Database upon responses by financial companies:
"Response times have sped up by 3& percent since the database came online... Steven Ramirez, CEO of data-mining consultancy Beyond the Arc, says his financial industry clients are asking him to find patterns in the CFPB data that show where they’re lagging."
Transparency and information are critical to a healthy, functioning marketplace. It helps everyone: both consumers and financial companies. It helpfs financial institutions improve their customer service, which can lower their costs by reducing account turnover and by retaining customers they'd otherwise lose.
With more information, consumers can make better informed decisions about the products and services they purchase. I like that there is now another option for consumers, besides filing a lawsuit or doing nothing. Consumers can now log complaints which the CFPB forwards to banks and financial institutions for review and resolution.
No business is ever too big to avoid responding to customer complaints. To use a sports analogy: while the playing field is still far from being level, the CFPB Consumer Complaints Database removes a lot of the tilt in the field.
Thanks to the CFPB and its staff for all of their excellent, hard work. Learn more about the CFPB Consumer Complaints Database.