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CFPB’s Complaint Data Reveals Banking Service Gaps

The CFPB released its latest monthly consumer complaint snapshot, which showcased what consumers have to say about their banking experience.

What did the report reveal? That consumers are still having problems both opening accounts and managing accounts. Some revealed their accounts were closed without the bank properly explaining why. As of Nov. 1, the bureau has handled over 749,400 complaints on all of the products it tracks.

“Deposit accounts are an effective way for consumers to manage their basic finances,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “We are concerned that consumers continue to complain about accessing and managing this key financial tool. Every responsible consumer who wants a deposit account should be able to get one and use it effectively.”     

Specifically looking at the bank account and service complaints, the CFPB has handled around 75,300 bank accounts/service complaints. Findings released include:

  • Problems opening and managing an account: Of all the complaints about this product, 44 percent of them involved consumers complaining about account management. Consumers also complained about not being able to open an account. Many of these consumers complained that they were uncertain as to the reasons why they were unable to open an account. In addition to problems opening accounts, consumers also submitted complaints saying their account was closed with no explanation.     
  • Consumers struggle to dispute transactions: Some consumers complained about being unable to obtain resolution for disputed transactions on their accounts. These consumers reported issues when they tried to submit complaints over the phone, as well as problems receiving refunded payments for canceled transactions. 
  • Issues with depositing and withdrawing funds: Consumers complained about having restricted access to their funds and blocks being placed on their accounts. More specifically, consumers submitted complaints saying holds were placed on deposited checks, and that they were unable to make deposits via their mobile wallets.  
  • Most-complained-about companies: Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and JPMorgan Chase were the three companies about which the CFPB has received the most bank account or service-related complaints. Between June and August 2015, the three companies averaged around 229 such complaints. Company-level information should be considered in the context of company size and activity in the relevant market. 

The CFPB forwards the company the relevant complaints and the company is expected to respond within 15 days (which confirms the banking relationship with the consumer).

The complaint handling duties were given to the CFPB as part of the Dodd-Frank Act, and the CFPB has handled the task since opening in July 2011. Complaints focus on consumer financial products, including credit cards, mortgages, bank accounts and services, private student loans, vehicle and other consumer loans, credit reporting, money transfers, debt collection, and payday loans. 

On the national snapshot, some of the statistics from the CFPB include:

  • Complaint volume: For October 2015, the most-complained-about financial product or service was debt collection, representing about 28 percent of submitted complaints. Of the 24,300 complaints handled in October, approximately 6,903 of them were about debt collection. The second most-complained-about consumer product was credit reporting, accounting for approximately 4,588 complaints. Overall, the CFPB saw a 6 percent rise in complaint volume between September and October 2015. 
  • Product trends: In a year-to-year comparison examining the time periods of August to October, complaints about prepaid products rose 193 percent. Between Aug. 1 and Oct. 31, the CFPB received 417 complaints about prepaid products. Payday loan complaints showed the greatest decrease (20 percent) during the same time period. 
  • State information: Idaho showed the greatest complaint volume increases from the same time last year by a wide margin. The volume of complaints from Idaho rose by 66 percent, while the next largest complaint volume increase — Arkansas — rose by 42 percent. 
  • Most-complained-about companies: The Top 3 companies about which the CFPB received the most complaints between June and August of 2015 were Equifax, TransUnion and Experian. TransUnion’s complaint volume nearly doubled from the same time period in 2014.

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