CFPB Complaint Portal Resolves Problem That Years Of Phone Calls Could Not

In March the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau launched a complaint portal for people with unresolved issues tied to their checking and savings accounts. Now we’re hearing the first of what we hope are numerous success stories from Consumerist readers who have tried the CFPB portal.

Back in 1999, Samantha moved from Philadelphia to New York and closed her account at Mellon Bank — but not exactly.

See, Mellon had somehow kept open the line of credit that had been tied to her checking account, even though it had a zero balance. The bank continued to send statements, but to Samantha’s old Philly address, which didn’t really do her any good.

Fast forward to 2010, when Samantha decides to begin checking her credit reports:

I noticed that I had an account listed with Citizens Bank, which had apparently taken over Mellon in 2001. I won’t get into all of the detail here, but numerous customer support calls and letters (and refusals to travel to a ‘local branch’ which doesn’t exist in Manhattan) later, I thought that the issue was resolved, and the account no longer appeared on my credit reports. I will admit that I was not super-zealous, as this was not an issue of identity theft or anything more nefarious than incompetence.

Cut to April 1, 2012, when I pull my credit report again, and find that while no account is listed, Citizens Bank is running monthly ‘creditor’ checks on my account. Again I spend hours on the phone, and again I am told the only way to resolve this is to go to a non-existent local branch. I am further told that the address I wrote to in 2010, which was given to me by their customer service, was nothing more than a payment center and that my letter most likely got tossed.

So, while I was simultaneously trying to contact the closest branch to see if they could help me over the phone, I filed a complaint with the new CFPB.

One week later, a gentleman from Citizens’ ‘Executive Service Senior Advocate’ called me and vowed to resolve the issue (after I sent one more letter, as they did need my signature).

Today, I got a notification from the CFPB that the account, which should have been closed 13 years ago, was finally closed and that the credit reporting bureaus would be notified of the correction.

19 days from start to finish.

In addition to the banking complaint form, the CFPB also has complaint portals for mortgages, credit cards, auto and consumer loans, and student loans.

Both the Bureau and these portals are but newborn babes, so we encourage readers to share their stories of success and/or failure with using the CFPB to resolve their financial issues.


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  1. Blueskylaw says:

    What sort of magic portal is this that makes behemoth
    corporations fold faster than Superman on laundry day?

  2. emyaeak says:

    Thanks to The Consumerist, I followed the link to complain about how difficult it was to make extra payments to my student loan provider (that would reduce principal, not extend out my automatic payments). I haven’t heard anything, but I didn’t expect to. You can’t just change an entire institution over night like that. I’m just hoping that some day down the road (I still have this loan payment for another 5 years), I’ll see a change. Maybe then I’ll start throwing extra payments to knock down the balance, but not now, while I’d have to mail in a check, then wait a few days and hope they got it already but haven’t started that month’s billing, and call and ask for it to be applied…! Absurd.

    • Cat says:

      You shouldn’t have to call or do anything to have extra funds applied to principal, not even a $5 extra “payment to principal” should be accepted as such. My bank makes it easy to do on my car loan, and even my mortgage, held by USRDA, has a place on my payment coupon for “extra to apply to principal”.

      – but ya know its part of the plan to keep us all paying for as long as possible.

      • emyaeak says:

        Yes, exactly! I had a private student loan through Citibank that had that option right on the website. But I can’t do anything like that on my loan provider’s website. If I submit any payments online, it pushes out my automatic payment by that much. I can’t even include a note with my check because they ignore any instructions received in writing! (This happened twice, when I changed the bank my loan was auto-debited from, I specifically asked them to increase my minimum payment from $146 to $200, and didn’t.) They will only accept a phone call, with each payment submitted, and it can’t be before the payment arrives, but it can’t be after they’ve started their billing. Hence, I only pay the minimum each month (and maximum interest!)

    • mobiuschic42 says:

      Oh god, if you’re talking about Sallie Mae, then bless you for trying. You can do anything under the sun on their website, except make an extra payment to an individual account. Their practice of “bundling” loans is abhorrent.
      Of course I want to make extra payments to my $6000 loan with 6% interest, and I shouldn’t have to write 3 letters to get it applied to the principal of that account, and not the interest spread across all 4 loans (2 of which have 2.5% APR – I’m fine with leaving those alone for now).

  3. philpm says:

    Hey, a government agency that works!!! Quick, shut it down before anyone notices!!

    • Mike says:

      Congress is doing its best to do just that.

    • shaqfu says:

      Believe many Republicans are trying to shut it down.

      • Eremis77 says:

        Yeah. Republicans blocked Richard Cordray’s nomination as head of the CFPB for months, until President Obama pushed him in while Congress was in recess. Of course the Republicans are claiming that’s somehow “un-Constitutional”, when it’s somehow okay to stonewall every single thing they disagree with and blame the President for the delay.

    • Jeff asks: "WTF could you possibly have been thinking? says:

      Yeah, it probably operates within its budget!

  4. scoosdad says:

    But does their online complaint entry form know to properly spell ‘bank’? (unlike the FTC’s online form for, among other things, spam email and not knowing what the word ‘spam’ meant:)

    FTC complaint form spellchecker in action

    That’s my own screen capture and no, I don’t have any spellcheck running on my browsers. This was all on the FTC’s site.

  5. Cat says:

    Why do Republicans so hate this agency?

    Republicans Hate the CFPB, but love the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC)

    “The difference between the two agencies is that the OCC sees its mission as protecting, not consumers, but big banks. Over the last two decades, the OCC has used its powers to ensure that the nation‚Äôs largest banks don‚Äôt have to play by the same rules that govern small community banks, can operate outside the jurisdiction of state attorneys general, and are immune from many consumer protection laws.”

  6. ColoradoShark says:

    When the police are on your doorstep, you straighten up fast! Until then, go ahead and do the equivalent of throwing your trash in the neighbor’s yard.

  7. Duke_Newcombe-Making children and adults as fat as pigs says:

    Well then. It solved a consumer complaint in their favor. Which means that IT’S TOO POWERFULLLLL!!!! We must eliminate it IMMEDIATELY!!111

  8. buddhalite says:

    I have an excellent track record with companies whom others have complete disdain for their operations.

    Why? Here’s the issue. Most people complain for the sake of being heard. You need to learn the art of the complaint. You need to be specific in reporting the problem, you need to name names and record exact events, dates and times. You must be the ears and eyes of management – and then you must propose the proper solutions.

    Who ever heard of closing an account without anything in writing? I surely close all accounts in writing, and if I must do by mail – I send it certified. You must protect yourself.

    To then come back a few years later and whine…I am lost. The OP says “while I was simultaneously trying to contact the closest branch to see if they could help me over the phone, I filed a complaint with the new CFPB.” So….you didn’t give the proper folks the information – you tried yourself, which was too much work, and decided the great big wonderful Government should rush in and save you. Great work there, by the way.

    If the OP had just taken the proper tact with this from the start, the CFPB would be unnecessary and made redundant with expediency.

    • Aking0667 says:

      That is total BS, most companies just want the cheapest way out and will take that way out.

    • bjcolby15 says:

      @ buddhalite:

      You’re correct, but when you try to complain several times – no matter how well you can – and you don’t get heard and get brushed off, what other resources do you have?

      In this case, the CFPB did a pretty good job in resolving a long-standing thorn in a consumers’ side. No complaints from me here.

  9. q`Tzal says:

    Big bad Big Brother is bad, bad bad when badgering citizens but
    better than sliced bread when battling beastly businesses.

    sorry, too much caffine.

  10. PhilipCohen says:

    Now, how abut they pay a little attention to that most clunky and unscrupulous of all “financial operations”, eBay’s ugly adopted daughter, PreyPal …