Advocacy Group Analyzes Consumer Complaints Filed With CFPB During COVID-19

A consumer advocacy has published an analysis of the complaints filed by consumers with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau during the coronavirus pandemic and there are some interesting data points related to the accounts receivable management industry.

For example, among the complaints that have been filed and mention coronavirus, debt collection is the fourth-most mentioned product, barely ahead of checking or savings accounts and trailing mortgages, credit or prepaid cards, and credit reporting or credit repair services. The volume of coronavirus-related mortgage complaints is about four times higher than coronavirus-related collection complaints, according to the data released by U.S. Public Interest Research Group.

Overall, the number of complaints filed in March and April with the CFPB were the two highest months since the Bureau began accepting complaints in 2011. One theory is that with more consumers stuck at home sheltering in place, they have taken more of an interest in getting their financial affairs in order.

In looking specifically at collection complaints, the group’s analysis reveals that the majority of complaints are for attempts to collect a debt not owed, which account for about 70% of all collection-related complaints. The next most popular issue is written notification about a debt.

The analysis comes as the House of Representatives is set to vote on the latest stimulus package today, The Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (Heroes) Act, which would allow individuals to automatically enter forbearance plans on any debt.

“We support the bans on both debt collection and negative credit reporting during the emergency that are in the Heroes Act,” said Mike Litt, U.S. PIRG Consumer Campaign director, in a statement. “A review of consumer complaints shows that without Congressional action, financial companies won’t treat consumers whose finances have been harmed by the pandemic fairly.”

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