The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or CFPB, created by the Dodd Frank Act, has just published an up-to-date and detailed list of consumer complaints against the finance industry. It has received thousands of consumer complaints since the inception of the program in March 2012 through February of this year. Although roughly half of the complaints relate to mortgage problems, abuses throughout the financial services industry lead to complaints in a wide range of areas. Problems with car loans and other aspects of automotive finance, student loans, identity theft, debt collection harassment, credit card problems, credit reporting errors - the CFPB gets an earful. Emphatically making an effort to be more than just a repository of gripes, the new federal agency really attempts to get to the bottom of the issues reported. An excellent summary of the complaints, along with an explanation of what steps the agency takes on consumers' behalf, can be found in the report "Consumer Response: a Snapshot of Complaints Received" made available online this week. The kind of transparency found in this report is a big first step in the right direction.
Consumers can file a complaint with the CFPB online right here and even check on the progress of the federal agency response by following the instructions on the same website.
Consumers can also call the toll-free phone number at 1-855-411-CFPB (2372) or mail a letter to: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, P.O. Box 4503, Iowa City, Iowa 52244.
Of course, administrative action is not always enough. In many cases, public enforcement action or private litigation is necessary to achieve the vindication of consumer rights. What today's report of the CFPB shows is that, when it comes to lending practices, consumers should not feel that they are alone.