CFPB Monthly Complaint Snapshot Spotlights Debt Settlement, Check Cashing, and Other Financial Service Complaints

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

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released a monthly complaint snapshot highlighting consumer complaints about financial services such as debt settlement, check cashing, money orders, and credit repair. The report shows that consumer complaints about these types of financial services generally revolve around issues of fraud or problems with reliable customer service. This month’s report also highlights trends seen in complaints coming from Oklahoma. As of Nov. 1, 2016 the Bureau has handled approximately 1,035,200 complaints across all products. 

“The products and services highlighted in  today’s report are often utilized by people working to make ends meet who can least afford to have issues with their financial products,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “The Bureau will continue to examine complaints submitted about these products to target bad actors in the marketplace.”

The Monthly Complaint Report can be found at: http://www.consumerfinance.gov/data-research/research-reports/monthly-complaint-report-vol-17/  

Category Spotlight: Other Financial Services

When consumers submit a complaint that falls outside one of the Bureau’s major complaint categories, their complaint is listed under the category “other financial service”. The types of complaints that make up this category include debt settlement, check cashing, credit repair, and money orders. As of Nov. 1, 2016, the Bureau had handled approximately 4,500 complaints about these types of financial services. Some of the findings in the snapshot include:

  • Majority of complaints were related to fraud or scam: Of the approximately 4,500 “other financial service” complaints the Bureau has handled, more than half—51 percent—have involved a fraud or scam as the consumer’s primary issue. These complaints generally had to do with consumers dealing with debt settlement companies.
  • Debt settlement was the most complained about “other financial service”: Problems with debt settlement services made up half—50 percent—of “other financial service” complaints submitted to the Bureau. Consumers complained that payments they made to debt settlement companies were never forwarded to their creditors and as a result they faced lawsuits for unpaid accounts.
  • Consumers complain of trouble redeeming money orders: Consumers complained of difficulty redeeming money orders, with the orders being returned to them as invalid or fraudulent. When the consumers attempted to resolve the issue with the money order company, they complained of delays that resulted in them not being reimbursed for the value of the money order. 

National Complaint Overview

As of Nov. 1, 2016 the CFPB has handled approximately 1,035,200 complaints nationally across all products. Some of the findings from the statistics being published in this month’s snapshot report include:

  • Complaint volume: For October 2016, debt collection was the most-complained-about financial product or service. Of the approximately 27,000 complaints handled in October, there were 7,749 complaints about debt collection. The second most-complained-about consumer product was credit reporting, which accounted for 5,369 complaints. The third most-complained-about financial product or service was mortgages, accounting for 4,357 complaints.
  • Product trends: In a year-to-year comparison examining the three-month time period of August to October, student loan complaints showed the greatest increase—108 percent—of any product or service. The Bureau received 1,272 student loan complaints between August and October 2016, while it received 612 complaints during the same time period in 2015.
  • State information: Alaska, New Mexico, and Missouri experienced the greatest year-to-year complaint volume increases from August to October 2016 period versus the same time period 12 months before; with Alaska up 53 percent, New Mexico up 33 percent and Missouri up 31 percent.
  • Most-complained-about companies: The top three companies that received the most complaints from June through August 2016 were credit reporting companies Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

Geographic Spotlight: Oklahoma

This month, the CFPB highlighted complaints from Oklahoma and the Oklahoma City metro area.  As of Nov. 1, 2016, consumers in Oklahoma have submitted 7,700 of the 1,035,200 complaints the CFPB has handled, with 3,100 of them coming from the Oklahoma City metro area. Findings from the Oklahoma complaints include:

  • Debt collection is the most-complained-about product or service: Consumers in Oklahoma most often submitted complaints about debt collection. Debt collection complaints accounted for 36 percent of the complaints submitted to the Bureau by consumers from Oklahoma. Nationally, debt collection complaints account for 27 percent of complaints.
  • Rate of mortgage-related complaints lower than the national rate: Complaints related to mortgages accounted for 17 percent of all complaints submitted by consumers from Oklahoma. This is significantly lower than the rate of 24 percent at which consumers nationally submit mortgage complaints to the CFPB.
  • Most complained about companies: In the September 2015 to August 2016 time period, the three most complained about companies by consumers from Oklahoma were Equifax, Transunion and Experian.

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 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.

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, visit the Consumer Complaint Database at: www.consumerfinance.gov/complaintdatabase.

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 the 60 days companies have to respond to complaints, confirming a commercial relationship with the consumer. Company-level information should be considered in the context of company size.

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.