Report Also Includes In-Depth Look at Consumer Complaints from Georgia
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released its latest monthly consumer complaint snapshot, highlighting consumer complaints about money transfers. The report shows that consumers’ complaints about money transfers center around trouble safely and efficiently sending money, and complaints about being victims of fraud. This month’s snapshot also highlights trends seen in complaints coming from Georgia. As of Dec. 1, 2015, the Bureau has handled over 770,100 complaints across all products.
“People rely on the money transfer process to make payments and take care of family members that they cannot be with,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “Through rules on international money transfers and continued supervision of this important financial service, the Bureau is working to make sure that consumers can easily send money without having to worry about delays or hidden fees.”
Product Spotlight: Money Transfer
Every year, people send tens of billions of dollars through money transfer services. Consumers send funds both abroad and domestically in order to make payments, and to help family and friends pay for important needs such as school fees, rent for elderly relatives, and other necessary living expenses. In 2013, the CFPB finalized rules on international money transfers that provided new protections such as disclosures on third party fees and exchange rates, error resolution, and cancellation rights for consumers sending money. As of Dec. 1, 2015, the Bureau had handled approximately 5,100 money transfer complaints, which include both domestic and international transfers. Some of the findings in the snapshot include:
- Consumers victimized by fraud: Of all complaints about money transfers, 42 percent of them involved consumers complaining about being victims of fraud. A common fraud tactic mentioned by consumers involves the fraud perpetrator asking for a money transfer in order to provide relief to a family member in need. While this is the most common type of money transfer complaint, it is not targeted at the actual money transfer service being provided.
- Problems transferring money: Consumers complain about problems arising when they try to complete a money transfer. Some consumers complained that the amount of money transmitted was smaller than expected, while others mentioned the money they sent being significantly and unexpectedly delayed.
- Lack of adequate customer service: Many complaints about money transfers centered around problems consumers faced when they contacted the company for help. People complained about long hold times when attempting to speak to a representative, and that when they did manage to get through to someone, they were provided confusing or inadequate information. Other consumers said when they called they were simply unable to speak to anyone from the company.
- Issues resolving errors: Consumers complain that refunds on money transfers are often subject to long delays, and that their rights in resolving an error are not made clear by the company they are working with.
- Most-complained-about companies: MoneyGram, Western Union, PayPal, and JPMorgan Chase were the four companies about which the CFPB has received the most money transfer complaints. Between July 2015 and September 2015, the four companies accounted for 80 percent of all money transfer 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 Dec. 1, 2015, the CFPB has handled 770,100 complaints nationally. Some of the highlights from the statistics in this month’s snapshot report include:
- Complaint volume: For November 2015, the two most-complained-about financial products were debt collection and mortgages, representing nearly half—49 percent—of complaints submitted. Overall, the CFPB saw a 12 percent decrease in complaint volume between October 2015 and November 2015.
- Product trends: In a year-to-year comparison examining the time periods of September to November, complaints about prepaid products rose 215 percent. Between Sep. 1 and Nov. 31, the CFPB received 442 complaints about prepaid products. Payday loan complaints showed the greatest decrease—14 percent—during the same time period.
- State information: The District of Columbia and Delaware are the two places with the highest complaint volume per capita in the country. The District of Columbia had 674 complaints per 100,000 people, while Delaware had 433 complaints per 100,000.
- Most-complained-about companies: The top three companies about which the CFPB received the most complaints between July and September of 2015 were Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian.
Geographic Spotlight: Georgia
This month, the CFPB highlighted Georgia and the Atlanta metro area for the report’s geographic spotlight. As of Dec. 1, 2015, consumers in Georgia have submitted 31,300 of the 770,100 complaints the CFPB has handled. Of those complaints, 23,600 have come from consumers in the Atlanta metro area. Findings from the Georgia complaints include:
- Mortgages are the most-complained-about product: Mortgages have been the most-complained-about product in the Atlanta metro area and Georgia as a whole. Of the 31,300 complaints submitted by consumers in Georgia, 33 percent have been related to mortgages.
- Georgia complaint volume mostly mirrors national trends: While consumers in Georgia complain about mortgages at a slightly higher rate than consumers nationally, complaint volume about other financial products is similar to what is seen on the national level.
- Most-complained-about companies: Equifax, Bank of America, Experian, TransUnion, and Wells Fargo were the five most-complained-about companies from consumers in Georgia.
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.
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 Ask CFPB.
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.