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How to Complain

Most Complained About Banks – We crunched the numbers

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

Analysis of CFPB DATA

  • Bank of America remains America’s most complained about bank
  • Ocwen has rapidly become America’s most complained about mortgage servicer. (Not surprising, given the mistakes they have made. If you are a customer, you could get money back from them. Find out more here.)
  • Citibank Credit Cards have the highest complaint ratio (complaints as a % of total credit cards)
  • Capital One received the most retail bank complaints per branch (with Bank of America a close second)
  • Experian is the most complained about credit bureau
  • Encore Capital Group is the most complained about debt collector

If you are having a problem with your bank, you can get help with your complaint from the CFPB (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau). Just file your complaint online, and they will help you get answers – and maybe even money. I told the story of my friend, who had his credit history fixed and money reimbursed, in this DailyFinance article. The CFPB has received over 400,000 complaints since it was launched, providing a real alternative for people to get help.

The CFPB makes its complaint database public. To date, over 250,000 complaints have been made public (and more are being added to the database every day). At MagnifyMoney, we believe that public access to complaint data is a great public service. It enables people like us to identify trends, rank banks based upon complaints, and help consumers make good financial decisions.

Today we are pleased to release our analysis of the complaint database.

Over 76,000 complaints were made public during the first six months of the year. Of the big four banks, Bank of America remains the most complained about bank. 5,261 people complained about BofA. Wells Fargo received 4,834 complaints. Chase received 3,988 complaints and Citibank received 3,025.

What does this mean for you?

We have crunched the complaint numbers, and have the following tips:

  1. If Ocwen is your mortgage servicer (now the largest non-bank servicer in the country), you should pay close attention. They have a history of mistakes, which can be very costly. If you are having problems with Ocwen, don’t be shy. Complain to the CFPB, and tell Ocwen that you are going to complain to the CFPB. They are a bit touchy, given they have just been punished with a judgment of more than $2 billion due to their mistakes.

  2. If you are receiving calls from a collection agency, you have rights. And if someone like Encore Capital Group keeps calling you – and you don’t know why – don’t be afraid to raise the issue to the CFPB (and tell Encore that you are doing so).

  3. For choosing a retail bank, we have long argued that branch-free banking is the way to go. Traditional banks pay the lowest rates on savings accounts, charge the highest monthly and overdraft fees, and limit you to their ATM network. Look at our checking account and savings account pages to make your checking account free, earn the highest interest on your savings account, and ditch your traditional bank. Of the big banks, Chase has half as many complaints per branch at BofA. And PNC and US Bancorp always did well.

  4. Credit bureaus can make mistakes. You should check your credit report every year, and make sure that mistakes aren’t there. You are allowed to get a free report every year from all three bureaus, and make sure you do. To get the issue fixed, you can go straight to the bureau. But, if they don’t move quickly enough, use the CFPB.

  5. The biggest complaint categories for credit cards are billing disputes and ID fraud. Sign up for alerts with your credit card company (they can send you an email if a large purchase is made). You should also download your bank’s app so that you can keep an eye on spending. Any suspicious activity should be reported immediately – and you should keep a paper trail of your communication with your bank. The earlier you catch anything suspicious, the better.

At MagnifyMoney, we will continue to update the complaint database, and try to provide you  with useful tips based upon the data.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Nick Clements
Nick Clements |

Nick Clements is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Nick at [email protected]

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How to Complain

How to Contact Chase Customer Service

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

Chase has numerous customer service lines available for all the inquiries you may have as an account holder. In this post, we list the contact methods for all of Chase’s products including credit cards, personal banking, auto loans and more.

In addition to the methods listed below, you can reach Chase customer service by signing in to Chase OnlineSM and sending a message via the secure message center. Click on the “Customer Center” tab, then click “Send a new message” on the left-side navigation.

You can also tweet @ChaseSupport. Representatives are available Monday-Friday from 7 a.m.-11 p.m. EST and Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m.-7 p.m. EST. Remember not to share any account or other personal information on Twitter.

Chase Customer Service

Phone

Mail

Online or mobile banking support

Customer Service: 1-877-242-7372

TTY: 1-800-242-7383

Outside the U.S.: 1-713-262-3300

Credit cards - personal

Customer Service: 1-800-432-3117

TTY: 1-800-955-8060

International: 1-302-594-8200

Card Services
P.O. Box 15298
Wilmington, DE 19850

Active duty military:
SCRA enrollment for Cardmember Services
P.O. Box 183240
Columbus, OH 43218-3240

Credit cards - business

Customer Service: 1-888-269-8690

TTY: 1-800-955-8060

International: 1-480-350-7099

Card Services
P.O. Box 15298
Wilmington, DE 19850

Active duty military:
SCRA enrollment for Cardmember Services
P.O. Box 183240
Columbus, OH 43218-3240

Personal banking

Representatives are available 24/7 for:

Service on existing accounts: 1-800-935-9935

TTY: 1-800-242-7383

Automated service available 24/7 for:

Online and mobile banking technical support: 1-877-242-7372

International online and mobile banking technical support: 1-713-262-3300

National Bank By Mail
P.O. Box 36520
Louisville, KY 40233-6520

Deliveries via courier:
National Bank By Mail
Mail Code KY1-0900
416 West Jefferson, Floor L1
Louisville, KY, 40202-3202, United States

Auto loans

Customer Service: 1-800-336-6675

TTY: 1-800-524-9765

Chase Auto Finance
P.O. Box 901076
Fort Worth, TX 76101-2076

Home equity loans

Customer Service: 1-800-836-5656

TTY: 1-800-582-0542

Representatives are available:
Monday - Friday: 8 a.m. - midnight EST
Saturday: 8 a.m. - 8 p.m. EST
Sunday: Closed

Chase
Attn: Home Equity Servicing
Mail Code OH4-7304
3415 Vision Drive
Columbus, OH 43219-6009

Mortgage loans

Customer Service: 1-800-848-9136

TTY: 1-800-582-0542

Spanish Customer Service: 1-855-280-4198

Representatives are available:
Monday - Friday: 8 a.m. - midnight EST
Saturday: 8 a.m. - 8 p.m. EST
Sunday: Closed

Homeowner’s insurance inquiries: 1-877-530-8951

Chase
Attn: Customer Service Research
Mail Code: OH4-7302
P.O. Box 24696
Columbus, OH 43224-0696

Exclusive address for notices of error, requests for information and qualified written requests:

Chase
P.O. Box 183166
Columbus, OH 43218-3166

Investments and retirement planning

For servicing questions for Chase Investments: 1-800-392-5749

Retirement Money Market Accounts or IRAs/CDs: 1-855-800-8053

For advice on your accounts, please contact your assigned advisor or team.

For other savings and banking services: 1-800-935-9935

Private client

Existing customers only: 1-888-994-5626

Fill out this form for new customer inquiries

Commercial banking

Existing customers only:

General: 866-954-3718

J.P. Morgan Access® Technical Support: 866-872-3321
Chase ConnectSM Support: 877-226-0071 or 855-893-2223 (for government, health care, higher education and not-for-profit clients)

Image Deposit Direct® Technical Support: 866-619-3060; for Virtual RemitSM Technical Support: 866-872-3321

Positive Pay Solutions Center: 800-235-6286; Positive Pay fax: 817-399-5550

Fill out this form for new customer inquiries

Business banking

Existing accounts: 1-800-242-7338

TTY:1-800-242-7383

General inquiries: 1-800-242-7324, select option 2

Representatives are available 24/7

National Bank By Mail
P.O. Box 36520
Louisville, KY 40233-6520

Deliveries by courier:
National Bank By Mail
Mail Code KY1-0900
416 West Jefferson, Floor L1
Louisville, KY, 40202-3202, United States

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Alexandria White
Alexandria White |

Alexandria White is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Alexandria at [email protected]

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Featured, How to Complain, Strategies to Save

Debt Buyers Reveal Just How Far They’re Willing to Go to Settle Unpaid Debts

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

Tens of millions of Americans are pursued by debt buyers, speculators who buy  the rights to collect their overdue bills. Yet few consumers realize this growing segment of the collection industry may offer them a chance to slash their delinquent debts by as much as 75%.

A MagnifyMoney investigation examined the business practices of debt buyers as detailed in disclosures to their investors. Here’s how the game is played:

  • Buyers purchase massive bundles of unpaid consumer debts with face values that often total billions of dollars. Those are the bills that banks, credit card companies and other creditors give up trying to collect.
  • Those debts are bought at deeply discounted prices, averaging roughly 8 cents on the dollar.
  • The buyers only expect to recover a fraction of the original amounts owed. Their target is to recover two to three times more than they paid.

The bottom line: Debt buyers can turn profits that meet their goals by collecting merely 16% to 24% of the original face values. That knowledge can be useful to savvy debtors who choose to negotiate a settlement for less.

Debt buyers “absolutely” have more flexibility in negotiating with consumers, says Sheryl Wright, senior vice president of Encore Capital Group, the nation’s largest debt buyer. Encore offers most debtors a 40% discount to settle, according to the company’s website.

“There could be an advantage in terms of negotiating a favorable settlement,” said Lisa Stifler of the Center for Responsible Lending, a nonprofit consumer advocate. “Debt buyers are willing to – and generally do – accept lower amounts.”

Stifler warned that debtors should be cautious in all interactions with debt buyers and collectors. (See “Tips to fight back against debt buyers and debt collectors” later in this article.)

In the world of debt buying, the numbers can vary. The price of bad debt portfolios ranged from 5 cents to 15 cents on the dollar during the past two years, according to corporate disclosures of debt buyers. The variables include the age of debt, size of account, type of loan, previous collection attempts, geographic location and data about debtors – plus shifts of supply and demand in the bad-debt marketplace.

What remains constant is the debt buyers’ goal of recovering two to three times more than the purchase price they pay for the accounts.

This is a different business model than that of traditional debt collection agencies, contractors that pursue bills for a percentage of what they recover. In contrast, debt buyers may often be more willing to wheel and deal to settle accounts with consumers.

Debt buyers raked in $3.6 billion in revenue last year – about one-third of the nation’s debt collections, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s latest annual report.

Information is scarce on the inner workings of hundreds of debt buyers who operate in the U.S. An accurate count is not available since only 17 states require buyers to be licensed.

Of the more than 575 debt buyers that belong to the industry’s trade association, only three are publicly traded entities required to file disclosures last year with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission. MagnifyMoney looked into reports from two of those companies and found telling insights into an industry typically secretive about its practices.

An ‘Encore’ of unpaid bills

Encore owns nearly 36 million open accounts of consumer debt in the U.S. through its subsidiaries Midland Credit Management, Midland Funding, Asset Acceptance and Atlantic Credit & Finance.

During 2016, Encore invested $900 million to buy debt with a face value of $9.8 billion – or 9 cents per dollar. On average, the corporation recovers 2.5 times more than it pays for debt portfolios – the equivalent of 22.5 cents per dollar owed, according to its annual report to the SEC.

In that disclosure, the San Diego-based operation details how it tries to get debtors to pay.

Encore boasts that its proprietary “decision science” enables it “to predict a consumer’s willingness and ability to repay his or her debt.” It obtains “detailed information” about debtors’ “credit, savings or payment behavior,” then analyzes “demographic data, account characteristics and economic variables.”

“We pursue collection activities on only a fraction of the accounts we purchase,” stated Encore. “Consumers who we believe are financially incapable of making any payments … are excluded from our collection process.”

The rest of the debtors can expect to hear from Encore’s collectors. But the company knows most won’t respond.

“Only a small number of consumers who we contact choose to engage with us,” Encore explained. “Those who do are often offered discounts on their obligations or are presented with payment plans that are intended to suit their needs.”

While the company offers most debtors discounts of 40% to settle, relatively few take advantage of that opportunity.

“The majority of consumers we contact do not respond to our calls and letters, and we must then make the decision about whether to pursue collection through legal action,” Encore stated. In its annual report, the company disclosed it spent $200 million for legal costs last year.

In a written response to questions from MagnifyMoney, Encore refused to reveal the number of lawsuits it has filed or the amount of money it has recovered as a result of that litigation.

“We ultimately take legal action in less than 5% of all of our accounts,” said Wright. If Encore has sued 5% of its 36 million domestic open accounts, the total would be roughly 1.8 million court cases.

Portfolio Recovery Associates has acquired a total of 43 million consumer debts in the U.S. during the past 20 years. Behind Encore, it ranks as the nation’s second-largest debt buyer.

Its parent company, PRA Group Inc. of Norfolk, Va., paid $900 million last year to buy debts with a face value of $10.5 billion – or 8 cents on the dollar, according to its 2016 annual report. Its target is to collect a multiple of 2 to 3 times what it paid.

It is a high-stakes investment. The company must satisfy its own creditors, as it borrows hundreds of millions of dollars to buy other people’s unpaid debts. PRA Group reported $1.8 billion in corporate indebtedness last year.

PRA Group declined an opportunity to respond to questions from MagnifyMoney. In lieu of an interview, spokeswoman Nancy Porter requested written questions. But the company then chose not to provide answers.

Asta Funding Inc., the only other publicly traded debt buyer, did not respond to interview requests from MagnifyMoney.

Tips to fight back against debt buyers and debt collectors

All types of bill collectors have a common weakness: They often know little about the accounts they chase. And that’s a primary reason for many of the 860,000 consumer complaints against collectors last year, according to a database kept by the Federal Trade Commission.

Be sure the debt is legitimate first

In dealing with collectors, you should begin by questioning whether the debt is legitimate and accurate. You can also ask who owns the debt and how they obtained the right to collect it.

In 2015, Portfolio agreed to pay $19 million in consumer relief and $8 million in civil penalties as a result of an action by the CFPB.

“Portfolio bought debts that were potentially inaccurate, lacking documentation or unenforceable,” stated the CFPB. “Without verifying the debt, the company collected payments by pressuring consumers with false statements and churning out lawsuits using robo-signed court documents.”

One unemployed 51-year-old mother in Kansas City, Mo. fought back and won a big judgment in court.

Portfolio mistakenly sued Maria Guadalujpe Mejia for a $1,100 credit card debt owed by a man with a similar sounding name. Despite evidence it was pursuing the wrong person, the company refused to drop the lawsuit.

Mejia countersued Portfolio. Outraged by the company’s bullying tactics, a court awarded her $83 million in damages. In February, the company agreed to settled the case for an undisclosed amount.

Challenge the debt in writing

Within 30 days of first contact by a collector, you have the right to challenge the debt in writing. The collector is not allowed to contact you again until it sends a written verification of what it believes you owe.

Negotiate a settlement

If the bill is correct, you can attempt to negotiate a settlement for less, a sometimes lengthy process that could take months or years. By starting with low offers, you may leave more room to bargain.

Communicate with collectors in writing and keep copies of everything. On its website, the CFPB offers sample letters of how to correspond with collectors.

As previously noted, debt buyers generally have more leeway to negotiate settlements since they actually own the accounts. A partial list of debt buyers can be found online at DBA International.

In contrast, collection agencies working on contingency may be more restricted in what they can offer. They need to collect enough to satisfy the expectations of creditors plus cover their own fee.

As part of a settlement, the debt buyer or collector may offer a discount, a payment plan allowing the consumer to pay over time, or a combination of the two.

“Through this process, we use a variety of options, not just one approach or another, to create unique solutions that help consumers work toward long-term financial well-being and improve their quality of life,” says Encore’s Wright.

A settlement doesn’t guarantee the debt will be scrubbed from your credit report

To encourage settlements, Encore recently announced that it would remove negative information from the credit reports of consumers two years after they paid or settled their debts. Traditionally, the negative “tradelines” remain on credit reports for seven years.

“We believe the changes in our credit reporting policy provide a tangible solution to help our consumers move toward a better life,” says Wright.

However, Encore’s new policy does nothing to speed up the removal of any negative information reported by the original creditor from whom the company bought the debt.

Check your state’s statute of limitations on unpaid debts

Before any payment or negotiation, check to see if the statute of limitations has expired on the debt. That is the window of time for when you can be sued; it varies from state to state and generally ranges from three to six years.

If the statute of limitations on your debt has expired, you may legally owe nothing. If the expiration is nearing, you can have extra leverage in negotiating a settlement. But be careful: A partial payment can restart the statute in some states and lengthen the time a black mark remains on your credit record.

Respond promptly if the company decides to sue

If you are sued over the debt, be sure to respond by the deadline specified in the court papers. If you answer, the collector will have to prove you owe the money.

If you don’t timely answer the complaint, the burden of proof may switch to you. A judge may enter a default judgment against you – or even sign a court order to garnish your paycheck.

Seek help from a lawyer or legal aid service if you have questions, but be careful of where you turn for help. The CFPB warns consumers to be wary of debt collection services that charge money in advance to negotiate on your behalf. They often promise more than they can deliver and get paid no matter what happens.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Mark Lagerkvist
Mark Lagerkvist |

Mark Lagerkvist is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Mark here