WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released its latest monthly consumer complaint snapshot, highlighting consumer complaints related to mortgages. The report shows that consumers continue to encounter servicing problems when they are unable to make payments. This month’s snapshot also highlights trends seen in complaints coming from California. As of April 1, 2016, the Bureau has handled approximately 859,900 complaints across all products.
“Today’s report shows that consumers are still running into too many dead ends and obstacles in resolving issues with their mortgage servicer,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “The Bureau will continue to press to make sure that people can get the right information and the timely help they need.”
Product Spotlight: Mortgages
Valued at over $10 trillion, the U.S. mortgage market represents the largest consumer financial market in the world. Over the past two and a half years, the CFPB has established new protections requiring lenders to determine that consumers can afford to repay their mortgages, and has introduced new consumer-friendly forms to help people shop for mortgages and avoid surprises at the closing table. As of April 1, 2016 the Bureau had received approximately 223,100 mortgage complaints. Some of the findings in the snapshot include:
- Problems when consumers are unable to pay: The majority of complaints about mortgages—51 percent—submitted to the Bureau had to do with problems consumers faced when they had difficulty making payments. Consumers complained of prolonged loss mitigation review processes in which the same documentation was repeatedly requested by their servicer. Consumers also complained that they received conflicting and confusing foreclosure notifications during the loss mitigation review process.
- Confusion over loan transfers: Another common complaint submitted by many consumers had to do with the lack of information when their loan was transferred from one servicer to another. Consumers complained that they were often not properly informed that their loan had been transferred. As a result, payments made to either the prior or current servicer around the time of the transfer were not applied to their account.
- Communication issues with servicers: A frequent consumer complaint submitted to the Bureau had to do with difficulty communicating with loan servicers. Consumers complained that when they were able to speak with their servicer, the information they received was often confusing and did not provide the clarifications they were hoping for. Consumers stated that these customer service issues led to delays in obtaining needed resolutions for their mortgage loans.
- Most-complained-about mortgage companies: The four companies about which the CFPB received the most mortgage-related complaints between November 2015 to January 2016 were Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Ocwen, and Nationstar Mortgage.
National Complaint Overview
As of April 1, 2016, the CFPB has handled 859,900 complaints nationally. Some of the highlights from the statistics in this month’s snapshot report include:
- Complaint volume: For the month of March 2016, consumers submitted 8,243 debt collection complaints to the Bureau. That figure accounted for over 30 percent of all complaints submitted to the Bureau in March 2016.
- Product trends: Complaints submitted relating to credit reporting rose 35 percent between February and March of 2016. During the month of March, there were 3,321 credit reporting complaints submitted to the Bureau.
- State information: In terms of total complaints per 100,000 people, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Delaware, and Florida had the highest concentration of complaints submitted.
- Most-complained-about companies: The top three companies about which the CFPB received the most complaints between November 2015 and January 2016 were Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
Geographic Spotlight: California
The CFPB highlighted California for the monthly geographic spotlight. As of April 1, 2016, consumers in California have submitted about 118,900 of the 859,900 complaints the CFPB has handled. Complaints from the two largest metro areas in California – Los Angeles and San Francisco – accounted for nearly 50 percent of the complaints submitted from the state. Findings from the California complaints include:
- Mortgages are the most-complained-about product: Consumer complaints from California were more likely to be about mortgages than consumer complaints nationally. While mortgage complaints account for 26 percent of all complaints submitted to the Bureau nationally, they accounted for 32 percent of complaints submitted from consumers in California.
- California debt collection complaints are lower than the national average: Consumer complaints from California were less likely to be about debt collection—24 percent of total complaints submitted—than consumer complaints nationally—26 percent of total complaints submitted nationally.
- Most-complained-about companies: Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Experian were the three most-complained-about companies from consumers in California.
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 that companies are expected to close all but the most complicated complaints within 60 days. After the CFPB forwards a complaint to a company, 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.
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, consumers can get clear, unbiased answers to their questions at Ask CFPB.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a 21st century agency that implements and enforces Federal consumer financial law and ensures that markets for consumer financial products are fair, transparent, and competitive. For more information, visit www.consumerfinance.gov.