Problem with a Creditor? Submit a Complaint to the CFPB
Eileen St. Pierre, The Everyday Financial Planner
We financial counselors have heard some pretty horrendous stories of consumers being taken advantage of by creditors and other financial service providers. For me personally, the worst cases are those who victimize deployed service members and their families. In all cases, the victim is desperately searching for an advocate. This is where the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) comes in.
Who is the CFPB?
The CFPB is a government agency created after the 2008 financial crisis to make sure banks, lenders, and other financial companies treat consumers fairly. While there are strong feelings on both sides of the political aisle about the CFPB and the need for its existence, this agency provides consumers with the advocacy they desperately need in the financial marketplace.
- The CFPB publishes monthly and annual reports.
- The Director must present a report to Congress two times a year.
How can I submit a complaint?
On July 21, 2011 the CFPB began accepting and responding to consumer complaints. You can submit a complaint through the CFPB’s website www.consumerfinance.gov/complaint or by calling 855-411-2372. As of the end of March 2016, the CFPB has received 859,900 complaints – 26,500 in March 2016 alone.
Complaint categories include:
- Payday loans
- Student loans
- Vehicle loans or leases
- Other consumer loans
- Bank account or service
- Credit card or pre-paid card
- Credit reporting
- Debt collection
- Money transfer or virtual currency
- Other financial services
What happens after I submit a complaint?
The CFPB will forward your complaint to the company in question who has 15 days to respond. Companies are expected to close all but the most complex cases in 60 days. According to the CFPB website, there have been 557,376 company responses, and companies have responded to 97% of complaints in a timely manner.
You can track the status of your complaint online and read the company’s response. You can also choose to have your complaint published to help others (personal data removed of course).
Why is it important to submit a complaint?
The CFPB looks for trends in the financial marketplace to put new rules in place to protect consumers. These efforts pay off. For example, the CFPB put forth a proposal in 2015 to regulate payday loans, auto title loans and other small dollar loans. Complaints about payday loans have declined so far in 2016. Don’t assume your case is not worth reporting. There are others out there with similar issues. If you don’t believe me, read the consumer complaints published on the CFPB website.