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BCFP Releases Complaints Snapshot – Debt Collection No Longer No. 1

The Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (BCFP or Bureau) released its Complaints Snapshot for October 2018. The snapshot covers complaints received by the Bureau between January 1, 2015 and June 30, 2018. In total, 494,540 complaints were received between January 2017 and June of 2018.

Of note, debt collection no longer holds the number one spot as the most complained about topic as of 2017. In 2017, debt collection still accounted for 26% of the complaints (specifically for attempts to collect debt not owed), but the top spot went to credit or consumer reporting with 31% (specifically, incorrect information on consumer credit reports).

CFPB Complaints 10.2018 chart 1 (product)

There was a 9% increase in average monthly complaints in 2018 versus 2017, but a 3% decrease in complaints from Q1 to Q2 in 2018.

Below is a chart from the report that discusses the most complained about products. By numbers alone, student loans and “money transfer or service, virtual currency” were the big hitters. Credit repair issues, while lowest in number, saw an increase into 2018.

CFPB Complaints 10.2018 chart 2 (debt type)

The report breaks out the data by state. Between January 2015 and June 2018, the three big-hitter states were California (138,535 complaints), Florida (100,727 complaints), and Texas (92,530).

It’s always interesting to see this type of data. It gives a glimpse into what the Bureau sees on a daily basis, which gives some insight into what the Bureau pursues.

For debt collectors, this recent report has positive overtones. While debt collection still makes up a little over a quarter of the complaints, the year-by-year comparison shows that debt collection complaints are going down. Additionally, it’s nice to see debt collection no longer wear the crown for the most-complained about product; the new king is credit or consumer reporting. Not surprisingly, this seems to follow the trend in lawsuits that has been seen over recent years (decrease in FDCPA suits, increase in FCRA suits).

With that said, this does not necessarily mean that complaints against debt collectors necessarily went down. Debt collectors who credit report (or even those who don’t but the consumer selects the incorrect category while submitting the complaint) might have complaints fall under credit or consumer reporting. This report does not break down the type of company against whom the complaints were filed.

The large overview of state data might look daunting. California, the highest hitter, had a whopping 138,535 complaints, compared against New York at number four with 65,965. However, a quick look at the 2017 census data makes these numbers more palatable. The complaint numbers seem to correlate to the populations of each state. The three big hitters — California, Texas, and Florida — are the most populated states.



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