On March 29, the CFPB released its most recent complaint report focusing on complaints related to debt collection. According to the report, as of March 1, 2016, consumers have submitted approximately 834,400 complaints across all products, with debt collection complaints accounting for approximately 219,200 of the complaints. Debt collection complaints highlighted in the report include, but are not limited to: (i) first- and third-party debt collectors attempting to collect on debts that consumers claim they do not owe; (ii) consumers repeatedly receiving calls from debt collectors, sometimes early in their delinquency or during grace periods; (iii) consumers being contacted while at work, with some alleging that collectors made in-person visits to their workplace; (iv) debt collectors not honoring consumers’ requests to cease communications; and (v) debt collectors failing to provide sufficient information to verify debts. Similar to past CFPB-issued complaint snapshots, the report identifies the top 10 most-complained-about companies in regards to all financial products, as well as the top 20 most-complained-about companies for debt collection. Finally, the report identifies Florida as its geographical spotlight, noting that (i) Florida consumers have submitted more than 80,000 complaints as of March 1, 2016; (ii) mortgage-related complaints account for 30% of complaints received from Florida, exceeding the national average by 4%; and (iii) at 24%, debt collection-related complaints submitted by Florida consumers are 2% less than the national average.
On April 26, the CFPB issued its latest installment of reports covering consumer complaints. According to this month’s report, the CFPB has, as of April 1, handled more than 859,000 complaints across all products, with mortgage complaints accounting for approximately 223,100, making it the second most-complained about product after debt collection. Key findings from the report include the following: (i) approximately 51% of mortgage-related complaints relate to consumers encountering problems when they were having difficulty making payments, such as facing prolonged loss mitigation review processes and receiving conflicting and confusing foreclosure notifications during loss mitigation assistance review; (ii) consumers facing issues involving transfers of their loan to another servicer without being properly informed of the transfers; (iii) loan servicers allegedly providing confusing and contradictory information regarding reinstatement amounts, charges and fees, and interest rates; (iv) loan servicers delaying the release of insurance claim funds allocated to property damages despite consumers having provided all required documentation; and (v) consumers facing prolonged and confusing loan origination processes, resulting in the loss of favorable interest rates and the expiration of rate locks. Consistent with past reports, this month’s issue lists the top 20 most-complained-about companies for mortgage-related complaints, as well as the top ten most-complained-about companies across all financial products. Finally, with more than 118,000 complaints submitted from the state’s consumers as of April 1, the report identifies California as its geographical spotlight, noting that complaints from the state have “generally followed the national trend.”
On March 22, the CFPB released its fourth annual report highlighting complaints the agency received in 2015 from servicemembers, veterans, and their families. According to the report, debt collection complaints continue to be the most common. The report states that, between January 1, 2015 and December 31, 2015, the CFPB received more than 19,000 complaints from the military community, 46% of which related to the debt collection industry. Complaints related to mortgages and credit reporting follow at 15% and 11%, respectively. The report also summarizes four public enforcement actions in 2015, noting that the actions provided servicemembers with more than $5 million in refunds and other relief.
On March 7, the CFPB announced that it is now accepting consumer complaints regarding the online marketplace lending industry. The CFPB simultaneously released a consumer bulletin defining the online marketplace lending industry as an online platform used “to connect consumers or businesses who seek to borrow money with investors willing to buy or invest in the loan.” The bulletin recommends that consumers take certain steps before applying for a loan or refinancing certain debt. CFPB Director Cordray did not expand on plans for how the CFPB will address the complaints, beyond noting that, “[b]y accepting these consumer complaints, we are giving people a greater voice in these markets and a place to turn to when they encounter problems.”
On March 1, the FTC released a copy of its Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book, which summarizes consumer complaints reported to the agency between January 2015 and December 2015. The report, which is published annually and covers rankings for 30 different complaint categories, found debt collection to be the highest volume complaint category, with identity theft issues and imposter scams following close behind. The report attributes the rise in debt collection complaints to a data contributor that began to collect complaints via a mobile application, resulting in a significant increase in complaints related to debt collection calls placed to mobile phones. Additional areas of complaints submitted to the FTC included: (i) telephone and mobile service plans, rates, and charges; (ii) auto-related complaints; (iii) banks and lenders; (iv) credit card billing services and notification practices; (v) foreign money offers and counterfeit check scams; and (vi) education advertising and accreditation. Addressing identity theft and debt collection concerns, FTC Director Jessica Rich emphasized the agency’s ongoing work to combat alleged unlawful and deceptive debt collection practices: “Steps like the recent upgrade to IdentityTheft.gov and our leadership of a nationwide initiative to combat unlawful debt collection practices are critical to our ongoing work to protect consumers from these harms.”