CFPB Monthly Complaint Report Highlights Complaints about Credit Cards
On March 28, 2017, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released its monthly complaint report. For the month of February 2017, the products and services generating the most complaints were debt collection, credit reporting, and mortgages, collectively representing over 60% of all complaints received. This is a shift over January, where the three most complained about products or services were debt collection, student loans, and credit reporting. On the whole, complaints decreased 10% compared to January 2017, with the bulk of the decrease stemming from a 51% decline in student loan complaints and a 10% decline in mortgage complaints.
In a year-to-year comparison covering December 2016 to February 2017 and December 2015 to February 2016, the total number of complaints increased by more than 22%. Specifically, student loan complaints increased by a very substantial 429%, a spike the CFPB attributed to an update to its process to accept complaints about Federal student loan servicing and a CFPB enforcement action against a student loan servicer before the most recent decline. For the same year-to-year comparison, consumer loan complaints increased by 31%, and bank account or service complaints increased by 27%. Credit reporting, credit card, debt collection, and prepaid complaints also increased moderately, but mortgage, money transfer, payday loan, and “other financial service” complaints decreased. Of particular note, money transfer complaints declined by 18% and payday loan complaints declined by 28%.
The CFPB’s report focuses on complaints about credit cards, even though such complaints represented less than 9% of the volume for the month of February. Billing disputes represent the greatest percentage of these complaints (17%), with “other” and identity theft/fraud/embezzlement complaints following (11% and 10%, respectively). More generally, the CFPB identified the following common types of credit card complaints:
• Billing disputes involving fraudulent charges;
• Rewards program issues, specifically the difficulty of using earned rewards;
• Identity theft and fraud;
• Late fees and other costs;
• Terms of deferred-interest programs; and
• Unsolicited credit cards or other issuance troubles.