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Released: July 21, 2015
CFPB goes to bat for consumers and hits a homerun
The consumer watchdog agency celebrates its 4th anniversary
In only four years, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has returned more $10 billion to more than 17 million consumers in the areas of debt collection, student loans, cellphone cramming, discriminatory auto lending, illegal bank fees, credit card add-on charges, mortgage modifications and much more.
More than 650,000 consumers have lodged complaints using the CFPB ‘s top-tier government complaint system that connects consumers with financial services companies to resolve their financial disputes. (www.consumerfinance.gov/complaint )
The complaint process includes a public database where consumers can turn to:
- Evaluate a company before making a major financial decision,
- File a complaint about financial rip-offs, unfairness, and discrimination,
- Alert others to prevent further financial harm
Recently consumers’ complaint details (called “narratives”) were added to the CFPB database so the public can gain a better understanding why consumers were moved to complain and judge the disputes for themselves. Consumers choose whether or not to make their first-hand accounts public. No personal information is released. Companies can also choose to publicly disagree with a complaint.
Those companies with the greatest number of complaints, broken down by state and financial product will now see those details released in monthly complaint reports.
Debt collection garnered the most complaints, accounting for 32% of submissions. Consumers reported that they continue to be hounded for debts they do not owe and targeted by phone and mail too often. Mortgage problems were the next most complained about topic; credit report problems were third.
The CFPB uses these complaints to identify patterns of problems, and to prioritize which companies and which categories of problems they should target for investigations, fines and in some cases lawsuits. At some companies, the CFPB has seen signs of improved customer service as a direct result of their complaint process.
As the CFPB celebrates its fourth anniversary, Consumer Action congratulates the Bureau on the tools it has provided the public to empower consumers in the financial marketplace.
Consumer Action has been a champion of underrepresented consumers since 1971. A national, nonprofit 501(c)3 organization, Consumer Action focuses on financial education that empowers low to moderate income and limited-English-speaking consumers to financially prosper. It also advocates for consumers in the media and before lawmakers to advance consumer rights and promote industry-wide change particularly in the fields of credit, banking, housing, privacy, insurance and utilities.