Last week, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau released a version of its Monthly Complaint Report that features a state-by-state breakdown of complaints submitted through its online database. The report, found here, also tracks complaints for the District of Columbia, members of the armed forces and older Americans.
“The bureau’s ability to receive and process consumer complaints enables us to hear directly from people about their concerns and helps us prioritize our work to protect others against similar problems,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “This report provides valuable information to the CFPB and the public about issues and trends we are seeing from each state.”
Overall, the report showed a few overall trends. First, complaints increased 7 percent between 2015 and 2016, totaling 291,400 last year. However, the bureau also reports that companies provided consumers with a timely response to their complaints 97 percent of the time. Also, 52 percent of consumers who submitted a complaint opted to have their narratives published by the bureau. Finally, complaints about debt collectors and mortgage servicers continue to be by far the most common. Debt collection activities accounted for 27 percent of all complaints, while complaints against mortgage servicers accounted for 23 percent. The report also notes that student loan complaints have shown the most dramatic increase in volume over the last year.
The state-by-state breakdown is also of interest. Unsurprisingly, the most populous states had the most complaints. That list is topped by California, New York, Florida and Texas. States with the largest increase in complaints include Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, New Mexico and Alaska, which featured the largest increase at 22 percent. The District of Columbia also saw an increase of 13 percent. States that saw decreases in complaints were led by Maine which had 18 percent fewer complaints. Also improving were Rhode Island, South Dakota, Nebraska and Vermont.
Taken as subsets of the country, military service members saw an 8 percent increase in complaints. By far, the majority of those complaints related to debt collection. 44 percent of complaints by service members concerned the repeated attempts to collect debts that were not in fact owed. The category of service members includes service members, veterans, and their dependents. Older Americans, defined by the CFPB as consumers who voluntarily reported their age as 62 or older, saw an overall complaint increase of 8 percent with the majority of those complaints dealing with mortgages. The single largest issue older Americans reported was difficulty when they had trouble making their payments.