CFPB Receives Double The Consumer Complaints In 2013, But Sought Fewer Explanations

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau heard a lot from consumers in 2013. The agency received the most complaints in its history, including those from three new areas – payday loans, money transfers and debt collections. But it appears that fewer complaints were sent to offending companies for review and response.


The CFPB’s annual Consumer Response report [PDF] shows the bureau received 163,700 complaints in 2013, that’s an 80% increase in the number of complaints received in 2012.

However, the bureau only sent 113,200 (69%) of the 163,700 complaints to companies for review and response. In 2012, the bureau sent 75,400 (83%) of the 91,000 complaints to companies for review and response.

Additionally, fewer complaints elicited monetary relief from companies last year. Only 8,520 complaints received compensation in 2013, while 9,000 complaints did in 2012.

Consumerist reached out to the CFPB for comment on the lower percentages of forwarded complaints and monetary settlements, but have not yet received a response. If we hear anything from the Bureau, we will update.

Although there may have been fewer instances of monetary relief last year, consumers reported receiving higher amounts of compensation for each complaint type with the exception of student loan complaints.

The overall median relief amount in 2013 was $154, up just $9 from the amount the previous year. Student loan complaints received just $187 median relief amount this year compared with $1,307 last year.

The top three complaints received by the bureau in 2013 were regarding:

  • Mortgages: Approximately 60,000 complaints, or 37% of all complaints, were made regarding mortgages. Consumers were most concerned with problems when they were unable to pay relating to loan modifications, collections, or foreclosures.
  • Debt collection: Approximately 31,000 complaints, or 19% of overall complaints, were made regarding debt collection practices including collectors attempting to collect when a debt was not owed and collectors taking or threatening illegal
    action against a consumer.
  • Credit reporting: Approximately 15% of overall complaints, or 24,000 complaints were received about credit reporting errors. Nearly three out of four consumers were concerned with incorrect information on their credit report.

Information about consumer complaints is available to the public through the CFPB’s public Consumer Complaint Database.

The CFPB allows a company 15 days to respond to a complaint and provide steps taken or plan to take to resolve the issue.

A complaint is listed in the database after the company responds to the complaint or after the company has had the complaint for 15 calendar days, whichever comes first.

The CFPB began taking consumer complaints regarding credit cards when it opened in July 2011. Since that time, the agency has expanded its complaint operations to include mortgages, bank accounts and services, private student loans, vehicle and other consumer loans, credit reporting, money transfers, debt collection, and payday loans.

In March 2012, the agency launched a searchable consumer complaint database on its website.

Complaints inform the Bureau’s work and help to identify problems, which then feed into the Bureau’s supervision and enforcement prioritization process, officials with the CFPB say in a news release.

CFPB Report Shows Complaints Rose 80 Percent in 2013 [Consumer Financial Protection Bureau]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.