70% of Complaints Filed With the CFPB Are About Credit or Consumer Reporting 


The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) published its semi-annual report on April 6, detailing everything what the agency has done for most of the last year. In a 100-page document, the agency explains its advocacy efforts to help consumers, the enforcement actions taken against companies and individuals, the data generated for different industries or the proposed rulemaking.

The report also contains some interesting data. For example, if we look at the complaint analysis, we find that the Bureau received approximately 872,400 complaints, a 33% increase from the previous reporting period. Interestingly, 70% of these complaints were about credit or consumer reporting issues, followed by debt collection with 13%. Complaints about credit cards, which seem to be a topic of great interest for the agency, barely represent 4% of total complaints.

Credit reporting is, therefore, one area where the agency has done some work and it is planning to continue during 2022. In October 2021, the CFPB released its report “Consumer Credit Trends: Disputes on Consumer Credit Reports” where it found that consumers in majority Black and Hispanic neighborhoods, as well as younger consumers and those with low credit scores, are far more likely than other consumers to have disputes appear on their credit reports. This is part of a series of reports focusing on trends in the consumer financial marketplace.

Another area where consumers have raised concerns related to credit issues is buy now, pay later (BNPL), in particular on the impact on their credit scores if they fail to make any payment. The CFPB devotes a few pages of the report to explaining the inquiry launched in December 2021 to gather data and information of the risks and benefits of these loans. This inquiry is one of only two orders to collect information under Section 1022(c)(4) of the Consumer Financial Protection Act that the Bureau issued last year. The other one was against large technology companies operating payment systems in the U.S., namely, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, PayPal and Square.

On new technologies, the CFPB issued in March 2021 the “Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Request for Information” jointly with other four federal financial regulatory agencies to gather insight on financial institutions’ use of artificial intelligence. The agencies sought information from the public on how financial institutions use AI in their activities, including fraud prevention, personalization of customer services, credit underwriting, and other operations.

Another topic that the regulator brings back is open banking and the possibility to provide more access to consumer data. In 2020, the CFPB issued the “Consumer Data Access Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking” seeking comments and information on costs and benefits of consumer data access; competitive incentives; standard-setting; access scope; consumer control and privacy; and data security and accuracy. According to the report, the CFPB is still reviewing comments received in response to this proposed rulemaking.

Read also: CFPB Closes ‘Junk Fee’ Consultation With Credit Card Late Fees in Sight

In addition to the topics mentioned above in credit report, BNPL or open banking, the CFPB has paid significant attention and devoted resources to the investigation of “junk fees.”

On Monday (April 11), the agency closed its public consultation on junk fees and sources with knowledge on the matter told Reuters that the Bureau could be considering rewriting some rules about late fees cap and taking a tougher line on enforcement.