WASHINGTON — The number of complaints about the credit reporting industry rose sharply in July, surging by 56% from a month earlier, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said Tuesday.

In its snapshot of consumer complaints, the agency said complaints about credit reports also rose 45% between May and July of this year from the same point a year earlier.

Nearly all of the complaints centered on the three major credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

The majority of the complaints, 77%, focused on inaccurate information in a consumer's credit report, which critics say is a long-standing problem for the industry. The snapshot notes that consumers have also had problems accessing their credit reports online "as a result of rigorous online identity authentication questions," at which point they must send sensitive information through the mail to obtain a report.

"Whether a consumer is trying to get a mortgage, apply for a student loan, or buy a car, credit reports are fundamentally important in allowing people to access their financial goals," CFPB Director Richard Cordray said in a press release. "As we see a rise in the number of consumers complaining about this issue, the bureau will continue to work to ensure that credit reports are fair, accurate, and readily available to all consumers."

Overall, debt collection remains the top reported issue in the complaints database, representing nearly a third of all complaints submitted in July. Complaints about consumer loan products — including title loans and installment loans — increased 61% over the prior year for the May-through-July period, the highest uptick recorded in the report.

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