On March 29, 2016, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released its latest Monthly Complaint Report for March 2016, which provides an overview of three-month trends in consumer complaints. This Monthly Report also highlights consumer complaint related to debt collection and complaints from Florida.

Debt Collection Spotlight

The CFPB has received more complaints related to debt collection products and services than any other financial product or service. As of March 1, 2016, the CFPB handled a total of 834,400 consumer complaints and 219,200 were related to debt collection. Some of the debt collection complaints relate to:

  • Companies allegedly collecting debts that are not owed from consumers;
  • Debt collectors allegedly repeatedly calling consumers in an effort to collect debts; and
  • Debt collectors allegedly unable to verify debts.

According to the Monthly Complaint Report, the two most complained about debt collection companies have been Encore Capital Group and Portfolio Recovery Associates, Inc.

National Complaint Overview

As of March 1, 2016, the CFPB has handled 834,400 consumer complaints nationally across all financial products and services. The Monthly Complaint Report includes the following statistics about those complaints:

  • Debt collection complaints represented 26 percent of the total number of complaints, surpassing mortgage related complaints for the first time since the CFPB began accepting consumer complaints in July 2011;
  • Complaints related to credit reporting rose 13 percent between January and February 2016;
  • Of the five most populous states, New York experienced the greatest month-to-month complaint volume percentage increase and Texas experienced the greatest month-to-month complaint volume decrease; and
  • The most complained about companies between October and December 2015 were Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

Florida Area Complaints

In addition to providing national consumer complaint trends, the Monthly Complaint Report also highlights complaints originating from Florida. Of the 834,400 complaints that have been submitted to the CFPB, 80,200 have originated from Florida. Consumer complaints submitted by Florida consumers revealed the following:

  • Florida consumer complained the most about mortgage related products and services;
  • Florida debt collection complaints—24 percent of total complaints submitted—are only slightly lower than the national average at 26 percent of total complaints; and
  • Florida consumer complained the most about Equifax, Bank of America, and Experian.

CFPB’s Consumer Complaint Database

In June 2012, the CFPB launched its Consumer Complaint Database, which permits consumers to submit complaints about consumer financial products and services. Once the CFPB receives a complaint it forwards the complaint to the relevant company for a response. Companies generally have 15 days to respond to the complaint, unless an extension is secured in the meantime. The consumer complaint and company’s response, if one is provided, is published on the public facing Consumer Complaint Database, which can be accessed and viewed by the public. The information provided on the database can be valuable to not only consumers, but also to companies. For example, it provides a valuable tool for companies to understand how consumers view the quality of the company’s products and services. It also provides companies with an opportunity to evaluate whether complaint trends suggest that problems exist with certain products and services that need to be addressed to avoid or minimize regulatory action. As such, although the Consumer Complaint Database is not generally viewed favorably by financial industry companies, it can provide valuable information.

For more information on the CFPB’s consumer complaint process go here.

You can view the CFPB’s Monthly Complaint Report here.

You can view the CFPB’s Consumer Complaint Database here.