WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released a monthly complaint snapshot highlighting consumer complaints about bank accounts and services. The report shows that consumers continue to experience problems managing their accounts. This month’s report also highlights trends seen in complaints coming from Ohio. As of Aug. 1, 2016, the Bureau has handled approximately 954,400 total complaints across all products.
“Deposit accounts are an essential component of millions of consumers’ financial lives,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “We are concerned that consumers continue to face difficulties accessing and managing this cornerstone financial tool. Consumers who are eligible for a deposit account should be able to get one and use it effectively.”
Category Spotlight: Bank Accounts and Services
Complaints submitted under this category cover products offered by banks, credit unions, and nonbank companies. These accounts are an integral part of millions of consumers’ financial lives, providing people a dependable way to collect earnings, maintain funds, and make payments. There are more than 200 million deposit accounts open nationwide. As of Aug. 1, 2016, the Bureau had handled approximately 94,200 bank account or service complaints. Some of the findings in the report include:
- Consumers complain of trouble opening accounts: Consumers frequently complained about consumer and credit reporting data being used in screening for new accounts. Consumers complained that they learned for the first time of negative reporting information when they attempted to open a new deposit account. Additionally, consumers complained about difficulty in addressing potential errors on their reports that may have prevented them from opening an account.
- Complaints about overdraft fees and availability of funds: Consumers also complained about overdrafts on their accounts occurring because of confusion about the availability of funds they had deposited or were attempting to deposit. Consumers voiced frustration about bank check holding policies that resulted in much-needed funds being unavailable for an extended period of time.
- Frustration about financial institutions’ error resolution procedures: Consumers frequently complained about the error resolution process for their deposit accounts. Consumers complained that when an unauthorized transaction occurred or they believed they were the victims of fraud, they faced prolonged response times and lack of provisional credit for disputed transactions.
- Most-complained-about companies: Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and Citibank were the four companies about which the CFPB has received the most bank account or service related complaints.
National Complaint Overview
As of Aug. 1, 2016 the CFPB has handled approximately 954,400 complaints nationally. Some of the findings from the statistics being published in this month’s snapshot report include:
- Complaint volume: For July 2016, debt collection was the most-complained-about financial product or service. Of the approximately 24,000 complaints handled in July, there were 6,546 complaints about debt collection. The second most-complained-about consumer product was credit reporting, which accounted for 5,382 complaints. The third most-complained-about financial product or service was mortgages, accounting for 3,910 complaints.
- Product trends: In a year-to-year comparison examining the three-month time period of May to July, student loan complaints showed the greatest increase—64 percent—of any product or service. The Bureau received 639 student loan complaints between May and July 2015, while it received 1,050 complaints during the same time period in 2016. The CFPB began accepting complaints about the servicing of federal student loans in February 2016.
- State information: Alaska, Wyoming, and Colorado experienced the greatest year-to-year complaint volume increases from May to July 2016 period versus the same time period 12 months before; with Alaska up 29 percent, Wyoming up 24 percent, and Colorado up 20 percent.
- Most-complained-about companies: The three companies that received the most complaints from March through May 2016 were credit reporting companies Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
Geographic Spotlight: Ohio
This month, the CFPB highlighted complaints from Ohio and the Columbus metro area. As of Aug. 1, 2016, consumers in Ohio have submitted 29,400 of the 954,400 complaints the CFPB has handled, with 6,500 of them coming from the Columbus metro area. Findings from the Ohio complaints include:
- Debt collection is the most-complained-about product or service: Consumers in Ohio most often submitted complaints about debt collection. Debt collection complaints accounted for 30 percent of the complaints submitted to the Bureau by consumers from Ohio, while 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 22 percent of all complaints submitted by consumers from Ohio and 21 percent of complaints from Columbus. This is slightly lower than the rate at which consumers nationally submit mortgage complaints to the CFPB of 25 percent.
- Most-complained-about companies: In the June 2015 to May 2016 time period, the three most complained about companies by consumers from Ohio 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 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.
This past February, the Bureau held a field hearing on ways to improve access to deposit accounts for consumers: https://www.consumerfinance.gov/about-us/newsroom/cfpb-takes-steps-to-improve-checking-account-access/
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).
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.