CFPB Complaint Totals Keep Setting Records, But Collections Not A Popular Topic

The number of complaints being submitted by individuals to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau continues to set new records and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic continues to “wreak havoc” on the financial situations of millions of Americans, according to an updated analysis of the Bureau’s consumer complaint database that was released by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group and the Frontier Group.

The release of the report was timed to coincide with National Consumer Financial Protection Week, which the CFPB sponsored last week, and the 10th anniversary of the creation of the CFPB, which will occur tomorrow, July 21. It’s an update to an earlier report that was issued, illustrating that the number of complaints submitted in March and April were the two highest monthly totals ever. That is, at least until May and June rolled around.

Individuals submitted 37,286 complaints in June, which was slightly higher than May’s total of 36,971. The number of complaints in each of the past four months is at least 50% higher than the number that were filed in the corresponding month last year, according to the report.

If there is a silver lining in the report, it is that the number of debt collection complaints for the period of March through June is only 6% higher than the number that were submitted during the same period last year. Only mortgages and student loans had lower comparables. Looking at the total number of complaints, debt collection ranked second behind credit reporting.

When drilling down into the specific issue that was being complained about, the report revealed that none of the top 10 categories were collection-related. Five were related to credit or debit cards, three were related to credit reporting or credit repair services, one was related to mortgages, and one was related to money transfer services.

As well, only 5% of collection complaints submitted between March and June mentioned COVID-19, ranking ahead of only credit reporting and credit repair services. Nearly one-quarter of mortgage-related narratives mentioned the pandemic, according to the report.

“The recent report is based on a false narrative and doesn’t represent a reflection of a CFPB hard at work, which is the ground truth,” said Matthew Leas, a spokesman for the CFPB, in a published report. “The bureau has aggressively utilized our tools of regulation, supervision, consumer education and enforcement to protect consumers.”

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