Since gaining full regulatory power over the financial industry last July, the federal agency tasked with protecting consumers from predatory or troubling lending practices has received thousands of complaints from consumers.
The federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently published the full details of the complaints it received from Americans since taking power on July 21, 2011, just ahead of launching its searchable online credit card complaint database. In all, the agency has received 45,630 complaints from consumers, including 16,840 about credit cards.
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However, the most common complaint came over consumers’ mortgages, with the agency receiving 19,250 of them despite the fact that it has only been accepting this type of feedback since December 1, 2011, the report said. The remaining complaints were largely about bank products and services, though it also received nearly 1,300 about private student loans. About 44 percent were submitted through the CFPB website, with another 39 percent coming from other regulators and agencies. The CFPB has been active in trying to remediate these complaints, forwarding about 81 percent to the companies over which they were filed, and processing 89 percent for response overall.
In one such case, a blind, 77-year-old Army veteran and retiree from Georgia was informed by a mortgage servicer that he owed more money than he thought he should have on his home loan, which was acquired in 1979 when he bought his property for $38,000, the report said. However, he continued to send the company $100 every month since he was unable to find the paperwork for the mortgage due to his handicap. The CFPB intervened on his behalf in late 2011 and determined that his mortgage had been paid off in 2007. As a result, the bank gave Ronald his money back with 3 percent interest, and he received a check for $30,000.
Similarly, a 67-year-old in California who received a $2,000 charge on her credit card for purchases she didn’t make could not prove that the charges were fraudulent and, as such, her lender sent the balance to a collections agency, which then took her to court. It was only after the CFPB stepped in that the lender admitted the charges were not her responsibility.
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The CFPB began operations without a top executive for the first several months it had full regulatory power. Once director Richard Cordray took office early this year, the agency significantly ramped up its operations in an effort to better protect consumers.
Image: jacqueline.poggi, via Flickr