Many U.S. consumers are experiencing problems opening and managing bank accounts or found their accounts were closed without explanation, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's consumer complaint report released Tuesday.
While the latest monthly report highlighted bank account and service complaints, debt collection ranked as the top complaint category.
Some of the report's highlights include:
- Complaint volume: For October, the most-complained-about financial product or service was debt collection, representing about 28% of complaints submitted. Of the 24,300 complaints handled in October, approximately 6,903 of them were about debt collection. Credit reporting was the second most-complained-about consumer product, accounting for approximately 4,588 complaints. Overall, the CFPB saw a 6% rise in complaint volume between September and October.
- Product trends: In a year-to-year comparison examining the time periods of August to October, complaints about prepaid products rose 193%. The CFPB received 417 complaints about prepaid products. Payday loan complaints showed the greatest decrease - 20% - 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%, while the next largest complaint volume increase - Arkansas - rose by 42%.
- Most-complained-about companies: The top three companies about which the CFPB received the most complaints between June and August were Equifax, TransUnion and Experian. TransUnion’s complaint volume nearly doubled from the same time period in 2014.
Consumers submitted complaints about accounts or services offered by banks, credit unions and nonbank companies under the category of "bank accounts or services." More than 200 million people currently have open deposit accounts.
"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."
The CFPB had handled approximately 75,300 bank account or service complaints as of the start of November. Some of the findings in the report include:
- Problems opening and managing an account: Of all the complaints about this product, 44% involved consumers complaining about account management. Consumers 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. Along with problems opening accounts, consumers also submitted complaints stating 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 cancelled 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, 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.
Company-level complaint data in the report uses a three-month rolling average of complaints sent by the CFPB to companies for response.
The data lags other complaint data in the report by two months to reflect that companies are expected to close all but the most complicated complaints within 60 days. After the CFPB forwards a company the complaint, the company has 15 days to respond, confirming a commercial relationship with the consumer.
The CFPB launched its Consumer Complaint Database in June 2012. It’s the nation’s largest public collection of consumer financial complaints. The CFPB has handled 749,400 complaints nationally through Nov. 1.