WASHINGTON The number of financial complaints filed by consumers increased nearly 80% last year, to 160,000, according to a report released Monday by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
The agency said the top complaints in 2013 fell in three categories: mortgages, debt collection and credit reporting.
"Consumer complaints have become central to the work of this agency," said CFPB Director Richard Cordray, in a press release. "They enable us to listen to, and amplify, the concerns of any American who wants to be heard."
To date, the agency has received more than 310,000 complaints including those received this year. Consumers have also called in with complaints for other categories including credit cards, student loans, and bank account and services.
The No. 1 complaint by consumers last year was regarding their mortgages, with homeowners concerned about their ability to pay and possible foreclosures. The category accounted for roughly 37% of total complaints, or about 60,000.
"The most common type of mortgage complaint involves problems consumers face when they are unable to make payments, such as issues relating to loan modifications, collections, or foreclosures," according to the agency's report.
The CFPB also received 31,000 complaints from consumers on debt collection, with individuals raising concerns about collectors attempting to collect debt not owed or those threatening illegal action.
"In many of these cases the attempt to collect the debt is not itself the problem; rather, consumers argue that the calculation of the underlying debt is inaccurate or unfair," according to the agency's report. "In other cases, the consumer's complaint centers on the credit reporting of the debt."
Roughly 15% of the complaints were also tied to consumers worried about incorrect information on their credit report.
"Some consumers report having to deal with the reappearance of incorrect account information on their credit reports, including inaccurate collection accounts, they had previously disputed and corrected," according to the agency's report. "Other consumers express frustration with having to correct information that does not belong to them."
Companies are expected to respond to complaints within 15 days, and close most, if not all, within three months.
Thus far, 93% of consumer complaints have been responded to by the companies either by providing alterative foreclosure measures, restoring lines of credit, or gaining protection from debt collectors. Only 21% of the responses have been disputed.