The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau launched the first in a series of monthly reports to highlight important trends in the consumer complaint data. The monthly report includes data on company performance, complaint volume, state and local information and product trends. 

Each month, the report will spotlight a product and geographic location. This month focuses on complaint data from consumers in Milwaukee. 

The reports are intended to provide insight for the public into the hundreds of thousands of consumer complaints on financial products and services handled by the CFPB. 

"Consumer complaints are the CFPB’s compass and play a central role in everything we do. They help us identify and prioritize problems for potential action," said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. "These monthly reports will enable us to share that data with the public more regularly, so that everyone can benefit from the information.”

June’s information includes:

  • Complaint volume: The most complained about financial product or service for June was debt collection, representing about 32% of complaints submitted. Of the 23,400 complaints handled, more than 7,400 of them were about debt collection. The second most-complained-about consumer product was mortgages, accounting for more than 4,700 complaints. The third most complained about financial product or service was credit reporting, accounting for more than 4,300 complaints. 
  • Product trends: Consumer loan complaints showed the greatest percentage increase from the same time last year, nearly doubling from approximately 660 complaints to 1,020 complaints on average per month.
  • State information: Hawaii, West Virginia and Maine experienced the greatest complaint volume increases from the same time last year; with Hawaii up 41%, West Virginia up 38% and Maine up 38%. South Dakota, Iowa and Rhode Island experienced the greatest complaint volume decrease from the same time last year, with South Dakota down 40%, Iowa down 14% and Rhode Island down 12%.
  • Most-complained-about companies: While company-level information should be considered in the context of company size, the top three companies that received the most complaints from CFPB for February through April were Equifax, Experian and Bank of America. Equifax experienced the greatest jump in complaints over the same period last year, up 8%. Mortgage servicer Ocwen experienced the greatest decrease in average monthly complaint volume, down 29% from the same period last year.

Company-level complaint data in the report uses a three-month rolling average of complaints sent to companies for response. This data lags other complaint data in this report by two months to reflect the 60 days companies have to respond to complaints, confirming a commercial relationship with the consumer. 
The CFPB’s June report spotlights debt collection. By examining issues, companies and geographic trends on a particular product, consumers and industry players will have greater insight to take corrective actions. The CFPB has handled more than 163,000 debt collection complaints. Concerns that the CFPB continues to see:

  • Consumers complain about collections of debts not owed: The most common issue identified by consumers is continued attempts by debt collectors to collect debts the consumer contends are not owed.
  • Consumers complain about communication tactics: The second most common complaint has to do with communication tactics. Consumers complain that they are contacted too frequently or at inconvenient times of the day.
  • High-volume complaint companies: The top three most complained about companies – without normalization – were Enhanced Recovery Company, Encore Capital Group, and Portfolio Recovery Associates. Enhanced Recovery Company saw the greatest percentage increase, going from 55 complaints to 193 complaints on average per month – up 252% when compared with the same time period last year.

Geographic Spotlight: Milwaukee

This month the CFPB is spotlighting Milwaukee, where it held a field hearing in May. The CFPB believes highlighting a particular region or location can spur people into creating their own localized reports and seeing what consumers in their own areas are saying about the financial marketplace. As of July 1, about 7,700 complaints – 1% – of the 650,700 complaints the CFPB has handled have been from consumers in Wisconsin. Of complaints from consumers in Wisconsin, 2,700 – 34% – are from consumers in the Milwaukee metro area. Milwaukee findings include:

  • Higher number of debt collection complaints from Milwaukee: Debt collection has been the most complained about product month-over-month since the CFPB started taking debt collection complaints in July 2013. But, in total, the CFPB has handled more mortgage complaints compared to debt collection. This is not the case, though, for Milwaukee. Cumulatively speaking, debt collection is the most complained about consumer financial product or service for consumers in Milwaukee overall.
  • Lower mortgage and credit reporting complaints than national numbers: Consumers in Milwaukee submit fewer mortgage complaints (26% versus 28%) and fewer credit reporting complaints (12% versus 15%) than consumers nationally.
  • Companies that stand out: Without normalization, in the May 2014 to April 2015 period, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – the three largest national credit reporting companies – were among the most complained about companies along with JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Citibank, Ocwen and Capital One. 

The CFPB expects companies to respond to complaints within 15 days and to describe the steps they have taken or plan to take to resolve the complaint. The CFPB expects companies to close all but the most complicated complaints within 60 days. Complaints inform the Bureau’s work and help to identify issues in the market, which feed into the Bureau’s supervision and enforcement prioritization process. The CFPB will continue to work toward expanding its complaint handling capabilities to include other products and services under its authority.

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