CFPB Monthly Complaint Snapshot Examines Bank Account and Service Complaints

Report Also Includes In-Depth Look at Consumer Complaints from Connecticut

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released its latest monthly consumer complaint snapshot, highlighting bank account and service complaints. The report shows many consumers are experiencing problems opening up and managing accounts, while other consumers found their accounts closed without explanation. This month’s snapshot also highlights trends seen in complaints coming from Connecticut. As of Nov. 1, 2015, the Bureau has handled over 749,400 complaints across all products.

“Deposit accounts are an effective way for consumers to manage their basic finances,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “We are concerned that consumers continue to complain about accessing and managing this key financial tool. Every responsible consumer who wants a deposit account should be able to get one and use it effectively.”

The Monthly Complaint Report can be found at: http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/201511_cfpb_monthly-complaint-report-vol-5.pdf

Product Spotlight: Bank Account or Service

Consumers submit complaints about accounts or services offered by banks, credit unions, and nonbank companies under the general category of “bank accounts or services.” These deposit accounts are an important part of a consumer’s financial life. Currently, more than 200 million Americans have open deposit accounts. These accounts provide consumers with a secure way to collect earnings, make payments, and transfer and hold funds. As of Nov. 1, 2015, the Bureau had handled approximately 75,300 bank account or service complaints. Some of the findings in the snapshot include:

  • Problems opening and managing an account: Of all the complaints about this product, 44 percent of them involved consumers complaining about account management. Consumers complained about not being able to open an account. Many of these consumers complained that they were uncertain as to the reasons why they were unable to open an account. In addition to problems opening accounts, consumers also submitted complaints saying their account was closed with no explanation.
  • Consumers struggle to dispute transactions: Some consumers complained about being unable to obtain resolution for disputed transactions on their accounts. These consumers reported issues when they tried to submit complaints over the phone, as well as problems receiving refunded payments for cancelled transactions.
  • Issues with depositing and withdrawing funds: Consumers complained about having restricted access to their funds and blocks being placed on their accounts. More specifically, consumers submitted complaints saying holds were placed on deposited checks, and that they were unable to make deposits via their mobile wallets.
  • Most-complained-about companies: Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and JPMorgan Chase were the three companies about which the CFPB has received the most bank account or service related complaints. Between June and August 2015, the three companies averaged around 229 such complaints. Company-level information should be considered in the context of company size and activity in the relevant market.

Company-level complaint data in the report uses a three-month rolling average of complaints sent by the Bureau to companies for response. This data lags other complaint data in this report by two months to reflect that companies are expected to close all but the most complicated complaints within 60 days. After the CFPB forwards a company the complaint, the company has 15 days to respond, confirming a commercial relationship with the consumer.

National Complaint Overview

As of Nov. 1, 2015, the CFPB has handled 749,400 complaints nationally. Some of the highlights from the statistics in this month’s snapshot report include:

  • Complaint volume: For October 2015, the most-complained-about financial product or service was debt collection, representing about 28 percent of complaints submitted. Of the 24,300 complaints handled in October, approximately 6,903 of them were about debt collection. The second most-complained-about consumer product was credit reporting, accounting for approximately 4,588 complaints. Overall, the CFPB saw a 6 percent rise in complaint volume between September and October 2015.
  • Product trends: In a year-to-year comparison examining the time periods of August to October, complaints about prepaid products rose 193 percent. Between Aug. 1 and Oct. 31, the CFPB received 417 complaints about prepaid products. Payday loan complaints showed the greatest decrease—20 percent—during the same time period.
  • State information: Idaho showed the greatest complaint volume increases from the same time last year by a wide margin. The volume of complaints from Idaho rose by 66 percent, while the next largest complaint volume increase—Arkansas—rose by 42 percent.
  • Most-complained-about companies: The top three companies about which the CFPB received the most complaints between June and August of 2015 were Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. TransUnion’s complaint volume nearly doubled from the same time period in 2014.

Geographic Spotlight: Connecticut

This month, the CFPB highlighted Connecticut and the Hartford metro area for the report’s geographic spotlight. As of Nov. 1, 2015, consumers in Connecticut have submitted 8,300 of the 749,400 complaints the CFPB has handled. Of those complaints, 2,500 have come from consumers in the Hartford metro area. Findings from the Connecticut complaints include:

  • Mortgages are the most-complained-about product: Mortgage-related complaints have been the most-complained-about product in the Hartford metro area and Connecticut as a whole. Of the 8,300 complaints submitted by consumers in Connecticut, 28 percent have been related to mortgages.
  • Connecticut complaint volume mirrors national trends: Of the 8,300 complaints submitted by consumers in Connecticut, 21 percent were about debt collection. This figure is 5 percent lower than the national average of debt collection complaints submitted to the Bureau.
  • Most-complained-about companies: Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Equifax, and Experian were the four most-complained-about companies from consumers in Connecticut.

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which created the CFPB, established consumer complaint handling as an integral part of the CFPB’s work. The CFPB began accepting complaints as soon as it opened its doors four years ago in July 2011. It currently accepts complaints on many consumer financial products, including credit cards, mortgages, bank accounts and services, private student loans, vehicle and other consumer loans, credit reporting, money transfers, debt collection, and payday loans.

The Bureau expects companies to respond to complaints and to describe the steps they have taken or plan to take to resolve the complaint within 15 days of receipt. The CFPB expects companies to close all but the most complicated complaints within 60 days.

In June 2012, the CFPB launched its Consumer Complaint Database, which is the nation’s largest public collection of consumer financial complaints. When consumers submit a complaint they have the option to share publicly their explanation of what happened. For more individual-level complaint data and to read consumers’ experiences, go to the Consumer Complaint Database at: www.consumerfinance.gov/complaintdatabase/.

To submit a complaint, consumers can:

  • Go online at www.consumerfinance.gov/complaint/
  • Call the toll-free phone number at 1-855-411-CFPB (2372) or TTY/TDD phone number at 1-855-729-CFPB (2372)
  • Fax the CFPB at 1-855-237-2392
  • Mail a letter to: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, P.O. Box 4503, Iowa City, Iowa 52244
  • Additionally, through “Ask CFPB,” consumers can get clear, unbiased answers to their questions at consumerfinance.gov/askcfpb or by calling 1-855-411-CFPB (2372).

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The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a 21st century agency that helps consumer finance markets work by making rules more effective, by consistently and fairly enforcing those rules, and by empowering consumers to take more control over their economic lives. For more information, visit consumerfinance.gov.