The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has begun accepting complaints on payday loans.
The agency has set up a database in which borrowers can file complaints about excessive fees, incorrect charges or other problems with payday loans, the CFPB announced Wednesday.
The agency's complaints databases are a means for consumers to mediate their disputes with financial institutions. The agency tracks complaints and requires companies to document the steps they take to resolve the problem. It expects companies to resolve most disputes within 15 days and to conclude all but the most complex cases in 60 days, it said.
Borrowers can submit complaints about payday lenders online, by phone or by mail, the CFPB said. The CFPB has already established databases to track complaints about credit cards, mortgages, bank accounts, private student loans, consumer loans, debt collection, credit reporting and money transfers.
"Before the Consumer Bureau, consumers who had trouble with payday lending products had few places to turn," CFPB Director Richard Cordray said in the news release. "By accepting consumer complaints about payday loans, we will be giving people a greater voice in this market."
The CFPB has led the regulatory crackdown on payday lenders over the past year. The agency recently moved to curtail online payday loans that violate state interest-rate caps and established stricter rules for payday loans to members of the military.
In April, the CFPB released a study that concluded that payday loans often trap borrowers in a cycle of debt and fees. The report also drew parallels between traditional payday loans and so-called deposit-advance loans offered by banks. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. later issued guidance requiring banks to consider a borrower's ability to repay these small-dollar deposit-advance loans.
Payday lenders fought back against the CFPB's policing of their industry at an meeting between industry representatives and Cordray held in May. The lenders argued that their services help borrowers pay their bills and that further regulation will drive consumers to unlicensed lenders that charge higher rates.
According to research by Pew Charitable Trusts published last month, 12 million people use payday loans each year, and each borrower spends an average of $520 in interest to borrow and average of $375.