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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

CFPB handled nearly 1 million consumer complaints in 2021

Federal Issues CFPB Consumer Finance Consumer Complaints Covid-19 Consumer Reporting Agency Debt Collection Buy Now Pay Later Mortgages Student Lending Digital Assets

Federal Issues

On March 31, the CFPB published its Consumer Response Annual Report for 2021, providing an overview of consumer complaints received by the agency between January 1 and December 31, 2021. According to the report, the Bureau handled approximately 994,000 consumer complaints last year. Among other trends, the agency found that complaints about credit or consumer reporting continue to increase, accounting for more than 70 percent of all complaints received last year. Debt collection complaints are also increasing, accounting for more than 10 percent of all complaints. Consumers also reported difficulties with financial institutions failing to adequately address consumer complaints, giving consumers the runaround, and described issues with reaching companies to raise concerns about digital assets, mobile wallets, and buy-now-pay-later credit. The Bureau noted that during the second year of the Covid-19 pandemic, complaint data showed that the volume of complaints from consumers struggling to pay their mortgages is increasing as borrower protections have expired. While complaints related to vehicle loans have also increased, the Bureau reported that student loan complaints remain lower than pre-Covid levels due to the implementation of temporary relief programs. The top products and services—representing approximately 94 percent of all complaints—were credit or consumer reporting, debt collection, credit cards, checking or savings accounts, and mortgages. The Bureau also received complaints related to money transfers and virtual currency; vehicle finance; prepaid cards; student, personal, and payday loans; credit repair; and title loans.

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