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WASHINGTON -- While the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s new director entertains removing its consumer complaint database from public view, that website feature is proving its worth. The CFPB published a record 257,000 consumer complaints in 2018, according to a new report by U.S. PIRG Education Fund. That brings the total to nearly 1.2 million since the CFPB began collecting complaints in December 2011.
“For decades, people had nowhere to publicize their bad interactions with credit bureaus, mortgage companies and debt collectors,” said David Rossini, chair of U.S. PIRG Education Fund’s Consumer Protection program. “The ever-growing number of complaints filed with the CFPB show that the Bureau is doing what it was designed to do -- offer consumers a forum to bring these bad actors to light.”
The report, You’re Not Alone: CFPB Complaints on the Rise, is the 14th in an ongoing series based on analyses of the CFPB’s Consumer Complaint Database by U.S. PIRG Education Fund. This is the first report in the series that analyzes all company, product, state and response data.
Key findings include:
Nearly half of the complaints in the database are filed against only 10 companies: Equifax, Experian, TransUnion, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, JP Morgan Chase, Citibank, Capital One, Navient and Ocwen.
The three nationwide credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) are the most complained-about companies in the database.
Credit reporting complaints skyrocketed after the Equifax data breach in 2017. Complaints related to “credit reporting, credit repair services, or other personal consumer reports” made up 43 percent of total complaints in 2018, up from 23 percent in 2016.
The three national credit bureaus have been the most complained about companies for four years running, predating the Equifax breach.
“Credit reporting, credit repair services, or other personal consumer reports” is the most complained about product category in 29 states and the District of Columbia, with Equifax receiving the most complaints in 25 states and D.C.
Ninety-seven (97) percent of complaints received a timely response. Additionally, more than 223,000 complaints resulted in relief for consumers; more than 70,000 got money back from the companies they complained about.
“Consumers are getting timely responses, getting their money back, and getting their problems fixed precisely because our complaints are made public,” said Ethan Lutz, U.S. PIRG Education Fund’s consumer fellow and a report co-author.
Mike Litt, U.S. PIRG Education Fund’s consumer campaign director, added, “If the CFPB decides to conceal its database, there will be an increase in wrongdoing and we won’t even know about it.”
U.S. PIRG Education Fund is an independent, non-partisan group that works for consumers and the public interest. Through research, public education and outreach, we serve as counterweights to the influence of powerful special interests that threaten our health, safety, or well-being.
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