CFPB Monthly Snapshot Spotlights Credit Card Complaints

Report Also Looks at Consumer Complaints from Massachusetts

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released a monthly complaint snapshot highlighting consumer complaints about credit cards. The snapshot shows that consumers continue to report problems when they attempt to dispute charges on their card. This month’s report also highlights trends seen in complaints coming from Massachusetts. As of March 1, 2017, the Bureau had handled approximately 1,136,000 consumer complaints across all products. 

"Credit cards are a vital financial tool used daily by more than half of all adults in this country," said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. "Consumers deserve clear guidance and need to be able to resolve problems that arise with their cards."

The Monthly Complaint Report can be found at: http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/documents/201703_cfpb_Monthly-Complaint-Report.pdf

Category Spotlight: Credit Cards

Credit cards are used by more than half of adult consumers in the United States. The Bureau began accepting credit card complaints from consumers as soon as the CFPB opened in July 2011. As of March 1, 2017, the Bureau had handled approximately 116,200 credit card complaints. Some of the findings in the snapshot include:

  • Consumers report issues with fraudulent charges: Consumers complain about being billed for charges that were not initiated by them or other authorized users on their account. Consumers describe difficulties in having these charges removed even after receiving notification from their card company that the dispute had been resolved in their favor.
  • Consumers complain about confusion over reward programs: Consumers report issues with taking advantage of offered benefits after meeting requirements of bonus points programs, miles programs, cash back programs, and travel benefits programs. Some consumers said that online information about the programs differed from what they were told by customer service representatives.
  • Consumers report being victims of identity theft: Consumers complain about credit card accounts being fraudulently opened in their name even after an alert was placed on their credit file.
  • Companies with the most credit card-related complaints: The three companies that the Bureau has received the most average monthly complaints about are Citibank, Capital One, and JPMorgan Chase.

National Complaint Overview

As of March 1, 2017, the CFPB had handled approximately 1,136,000 complaints nationally. Some of the findings from the statistics being published in this month’s snapshot report include:

  • Complaint volume: For February 2017, debt collection was the most-complained-about financial product or service. Of the approximately 26,000 complaints handled in February, there were 7,755 complaints about debt collection. The second most-complained-about consumer product was credit reporting, which accounted for 4,902 complaints.  The third most-complained-about financial product or service was mortgages, accounting for 3,718 complaints.
  •  Product trends: In a year-to-year comparison examining the three-month time period of December to February, student loan complaints showed the greatest increase—429 percent—of any product or service. The Bureau received 551 student loan complaints between December 2015 and February 2016, while it received 2,913 complaints during the same time period a year later.
  • State information: Montana, Georgia, and Missouri experienced the greatest year-to-year complaint volume increases from December 2016 to February 2017 versus the same time period 12 months before; with Montana up 53 percent, Georgia up 53 percent, and Missouri up 39 percent.
  •  Most-complained-about companies: The top three companies that received the most complaints from October through December 2016 were Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian.  

Geographic Spotlight: Massachusetts

This month, the CFPB highlighted complaints from Massachusetts and the Boston metro area. As of March 1, 2017, consumers in Massachusetts have submitted 20,600 of the 1,136,000 complaints the CFPB has handled. Of those complaints, 15,400 came from consumers in the Boston metro area. Findings from the Massachusetts complaints include:

  • Rate of debt collection complaints significantly lower than the national average: Complaints related to debt collection accounted for 20 percent of all complaints submitted by consumers from Massachusetts. This is lower than the rate of 27 percent at which consumers nationally submit debt collection complaints to the Bureau.
  • Rate of mortgage complaints at roughly the national average: Consumers in Massachusetts submitted complaints about mortgages at about the national average. Complaints related to mortgages accounted for 26 percent of all complaints submitted by consumers from Massachusetts, while mortgage complaints account for 24 percent of complaints submitted to the Bureau nationally.
  • Most-complained-about companies: Bank of America, Citibank, and Experian were the most-complained-about companies from consumers in Massachusetts.

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, 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.