On March 24, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) provided the Consumer response Annual report 2020 (CFPB Report) to Congress. The CFPB report reflects the complaints lodged by consumers with the CFPB and analyzes these complaints.
In 2020, the CFPB recorded a 54% increase in complaints compared to 2019 – the total number rising from 352,400 in 2019 to 542,300 in 2020. The CFPB attributes the increase in complaints, at least in part, to l impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) on the consumer financial market with CFPB Acting Director Dave Ueijo declaring: “The pandemic has been one of the most disruptive long-term events we will see in the course of of our life. Unsurprisingly, the shockwaves it sent across the globe were deeply felt in the consumer financial market. “
The main takeaways from the CFPB report are as follows:
- Credit and consumer reports received the largest share of consumer complaints, accounting for 58% of total complaints;
- Debt collection was the second largest area of consumer complaints, accounting for 15% of complaints;
- Per capita, Florida consumers filed more complaints than any other state, with 309 complaints filed per 100,000 population;
- Military personnel, veterans and self-identified military families submitted 40,800 complaints, which represents approximately 7.5% of complaints; and
- While only 5.9% of complaints explicitly mentioned COVID-19, the CFPB stressed that “the absence of coronavirus as a keyword in a complaint does not necessarily mean that the complaint was not related to the financial impact pandemic ”.
In a Press release, the CFPB noted that complaints about inaccurate information on credit and consumer reports increased from the previous year. The CFPB also pointed out that “in previous years” credit bureaus “have provided substantial and relatively detailed responses to the majority of complaints”. However, in a potential shot through the arc, the CFPB “observed” that agencies “ceased to provide complete and accurate responses to many of these complaints” in 2020.
At the start of the pandemic, the CFPB reported regulatory relief in a Policy statement of April 1, 2020 on the operational challenges posed by COVID-19, stating that it will “take into account the individual situation of a consumer information agency or supplier” when reviewing compliance with the FCRA. However, companies providing financial services to consumers can expect a more aggressive CFPB with President Biden appointment of Rohit Chopra become the new director of the agency.