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CFPB Complaint Snapshot Spotlights Credit Card Complaints
Wednesday, October 28, 2015 6:30 AM

Tuesday, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau released its latest monthly consumer complaints snapshot, which highlights credit card complaints. Consumers’ most frequent credit card-related complaints were about incurring late fees and credit report problems due to confusing payment processing schedules and difficulty disputing bill inaccuracies.

“Credit cards are an important financial tool for over half of the adults in this country,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “It is important for consumers to be able to control how their payments are applied and to have clear information about their rights as cardholders. The Bureau will continue to work to protect people as they are using credit cards.”

Read the Monthly Complaint Report.

Product Spotlight: Credit Cards

Credit cards are used by more than half of adult consumers in the United States. Many consumers rely on credit cards as an important tool in financing their day-to-day lives. At the beginning of 2015, U.S. consumers carried more than $700 billion in credit card debt. The CFPB began taking credit card complaints as soon as the agency opened its doors on July 21, 2011. As of Oct. 1, 2015 the Bureau had handled approximately 79,500 credit card-related complaints. Some of the issues consumers report facing include:

  • Confusion over how late fees are assessed.    
  • Problems resolving inaccuracies on billing statements.
  • Accounts closed without consumer consent. 
  • Most-complained-about companies: Citibank, Capital One, GE Capital Retail, and JPMorgan Chase accounted for nearly 60 percent of credit card complaints submitted to the Bureau between May and July 2015. Of these companies, Citibank received 708 complaints during this time period, which was more than one hundred more complaints than the second most complained about company, Capital One.

Company-level complaint data in the report uses a three-month rolling average of complaints sent by the Bureau to companies for response. Company-level data lags other complaint data in this report by two months to account for the fact 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 initially has 15 days to respond, confirming a commercial relationship with the consumer.

National Complaint Overview

As of Oct. 1, 2015, the CFPB has handled 726,000 complaints nationally. Some of the highlights from the statistics in this month’s snapshot report include:

  • Complaint volume: For September 2015, the most-complained-about financial product or service was debt collection, representing about 29 percent of complaints submitted. Of the 23,354 complaints handled in September, approximately 6,818 were about debt collection. The second most-complained-about consumer product was credit reporting, accounting for approximately 4,799 complaints. Overall, the CFPB saw a 9 percent reduction in complaint volume between August and September 2015.
  • Product trends: In a year-to-year comparison, complaints about debt settlement, credit repair, and check cashing showed the greatest percentage increase. Complaints about these products, which the Bureau classifies as “other financial services complaints,” rose 97 percent from the same time period last year.
  • Most-complained-about companies: The top three companies about which the CFPB received the most complaints remain unchanged from last month’s report. From May through July 2015, Equifax, Experian, and Bank of America were the three most-complained-about companies.

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.

Read more on CFPB's press release here. For more information, visit consumerfinance.gov.