Report Also Includes Look at Consumer Complaints from Florida
WASHINGTON, D.C. –Today, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released its latest monthly consumer complaint snapshot, highlighting consumer complaints related to debt collection. The report shows that the most common debt collection complaint is about attempts to collect on a debt the consumer reported was not owed. This month’s snapshot also highlights trends seen in complaints from consumers in Florida. As of March 1, 2016, the Bureau has handled approximately 834,400 complaints across all products.
“Today’s report shows that inaccurate information about debts continues to be a source of frustration for many consumers,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “We will continue to hold debt collectors accountable for ensuring that they are collecting the right amount from the right person.”
Product Spotlight: Debt Collection
Debt collection has been the most-complained-about financial product to the CFPB by consumers. As of March 1, 2016 the Bureau had handled approximately 219,200 debt collection complaints. Some of the findings in the snapshot include:
- Collection on debts not owed: The most common debt collection complaint had to do with both first- and third-party debt collectors attempting to collect on a debt the consumer reported was not owed. These types of complaints accounted for 38 percent of all debt collection complaints submitted.
- Debt collectors repeatedly calling consumers: Another frequent complaint from consumers was about communication tactics used by debt collectors. Consumers complained about receiving multiple calls weekly and sometimes daily from debt collectors. Consumers often complained that the collector continued to call even after being repeatedly told that the alleged debtor could not be contacted at the dialed number. Consumers also complained about debt collectors calling their places of employment.
- Consumers unable to verify debts owed: Consumers complained that they were not given enough information to verify whether or not they owed the debt that someone was attempting to collect.
- Most-complained-about debt collection companies: The two companies that the CFPB received the most debt collection complaints about were Encore Capital Group and Portfolio Recovery Associates, Inc. Both companies, which are among the largest debt buyers in the country, averaged over 100 complaints submitted to the Bureau each month between October and December 2015. In 2015, the CFPB took enforcement actions against these two large debt buyers for using deceptive tactics to collect bad debts.
National Complaint Overview
As of March 1, 2016, the CFPB has handled 834,400 complaints nationally. Some of the highlights from the statistics in this month’s snapshot report include:
- Complaint volume: As of March 1, 2016, debt collection complaints represented 26 percent of total cumulative complaints submitted to the CFPB, surpassing mortgages as the most-complained-about product or service since the Bureau began accepting complaints in July 2011.
- Product trends: Complaints submitted relating to credit reporting rose 13 percent between January and February 2016. During the month of February, 3,832 credit reporting complaints were submitted to the Bureau.
- State information: Of the five most populated states, New York—12 percent—experienced the greatest month-to-month complaint volume percentage increase, while Texas—8 percent—experienced the greatest month-to-month percentage decrease. Complaints from the five most populous states, California, Texas, New York, Florida, and Illinois account for over 40 percent of complaints submitted to the CFPB since July 2011.
- Most-complained-about companies: The top three companies about which the CFPB received the most complaints between October and December of 2015 were Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
Geographic Spotlight: Florida
The CFPB highlighted Florida for the March geographic spotlight. As of March 1, 2016, consumers in Florida have submitted 80,200 of the 834,400 complaints the CFPB has handled. Complaints from the three largest metro areas in Florida — Miami, Orlando, and Tampa Bay — accounted for nearly 60 percent of the complaints submitted from the state. Findings from the Florida complaints include:
- Mortgages are the most-complained-about product: Consumer complaints from Florida are more likely to be about mortgages than consumer complaints nationally. While nationally mortgages account for 26 percent of total complaints submitted to the Bureau, mortgages complaints account for 30 percent of complaints from Florida.
- Florida debt collection complaints mainly mirror national trends: Florida residents are slightly less likely to submit complaints about debt collection. Complaints about debt collection accounted for 24 percent of total complaints from Florida, while nationally debt collection complaints account for 26 percent of total complaints submitted.
- Most-complained-about companies: Equifax, Bank of America, and Experian were the three most-complained-about companies from consumers in Florida.
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.
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 also has 15 days to respond, confirming a commercial relationship with the consumer. Company-level information should be considered in the context of company size.
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 publicly share their explanation of what happened. The Consumer Complaint Database is available 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 Ask CFPB.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) 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 www.consumerfinance.gov.