The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was established by Congress in 2010 as part of the Dodd-Frank Act. The CFPB has a big job: protect any consumer who uses a financial product or service. How does the CFPB protect consumers? They write rules that banks must follow and they fine banks when they don’t follow the rules. Only a small part of the fine goes to the government: the biggest portion is actually refunded to the people who were victims. To date, the CFPB has put over $3 billion into the pockets of everyday Americans.
But the CFPB also does something that we find very exciting: they will handle your complaints. We think this is amazing for 3 reasons:
- Banks will be held accountable. Speaking to the manager is no longer the last line of defense. If you have suffered a serious grievance – you have a real alternative to the bank.
- The CFPB can see complaint trends. Why is that important? Complaints are usually a great way to figure out if there is a systematic problem. If, all of sudden, thousands of people start complaining about a small bank charging lots of hidden fees – then the CFPB can use those complaints as a clue to investigate the bank. When I used to run a credit card business, I would use complaint data internally to find out where we got things wrong.
- The CFPB shares the data publicly – including the names of the banks. We think this is the best part of the story. Airlines are constantly ranked based upon their on-time performance. Why can’t we do the same thing for complaints about banks? When I lived in the UK, the complaint data would be front-page news.
At MagnifyMoney, we love that the CFPB manages complaints and publishes the data. We want to help the CFPB advance their mission. We have put together a simple guide on How to Complain. Don’t be afraid to make the CFPB work for you!
Starting today, MagnifyMoney will be publishing a monthly report on the most complained about banks. Here are some of the most interesting findings for this month:
- Bank of America received more complaints than any other institution. A total of 35,847 complaints have been made
- 5 of the Top 10 Most Complained About Banks are not banks!
- 2 are mortgage companies: Nationstar and Ocwen
- 3 are credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion
- The most complained about product: mortgages
- During the first 3 months of 2014, Ocwen actually received more complaints than Bank of America. Ocwen is a mortgage-servicing company.
- Debt collection has rapidly risen and is now the second most complained about topic. The worst offender: a company called Encore Capital Group. Banks will sell your debt to companies like Encore Capital.
- Experian is the most complained about credit bureau – having received 8,630 complaints
- When adjusted for the number of branches, Capital One is the most complained about bank. They received more than one complaint for every branch that they operate.
- When adjusted for the number of credit cards outstanding, Citibank received more complaints than any other issuer
- The top 3 credit card complaints: Billing Disputes, Interest Rate and Identity Theft
- In absolute numbers, New York has sent more complaints to the CFPB than any other region
- When adjusted for the number of people, Miami had the highest per capital complaint ratio
CFPB Data on Most Complained about Banks: See more details