The number of consumer complaints filed in the database of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has skyrocketed since the beginning of the pandemic.
There was a 44 percent increase from 2019 numbers from March 13, when President Trump declared a national emergency, to July 17, according to a recent report from LendEDU. In 2019, 97,008 complaints were filed during that same window.
The 140,042 complaints filed during that time also represented a 38 percent increase in complaints compared to the previous 127-day period ending on March 12, 2020.
Comparing year-over-year changes, three categories saw the largest increases. There was an 84 percent increase in the number of complaints related to “credit reporting, credit repair services or other personal consumer reports”; a 77 percent increase in the number of complaints related to “money transfer, virtual currency or money service”, and a 29 percent increase in the number of complaints related to credit or prepaid cards.
Under credit reporting, consumers complained about company investigations and incorrect information on their credit reports. There was a 168 percent increase from 2019 for the issue “problem with a credit reporting company’s investigation into an existing problem” under the sub-product “general-purpose credit card or charge card.” There was a 109 percent increase from 2019 for the issue “incorrect information on your report” under the sub-product “credit reporting.”
Compared to 2019 numbers in the money transfer category, there was a 3,067 percent increase in complaints about adding money to mobile or digital wallets. There was a 900 percent increase over “confusing or misleading disclosures” for virtual currency, and a 777 percent increase for other, undefined virtual currency issues.
One notable trend was a 506 percent year-over-year increase in the number of complaints related to government benefit cards. More specifically, there was a more than 1,700 percent increase from 2019 in the number of complaints related to “problem getting a card or closing an account” when it came to those government benefit cards, possibly related to difficulties accessing the $1,200 stimulus payment LendEDU said.
Notably, there was a 41 percent decrease in the number of complaints related to student loans, possibly due to the fact that the Department of Education placed all federal student loans in forbearance until September 30. With no payments and no interest accruing, consumers might have redirected their funds and attention elsewhere.