In a blog post appearing today on the CFPB’s newly redesigned website, Director Cordray announced that the CFPB is now taking on-line complaints about deposit accounts. According to Director Cordray’s blog post (and the CFPB’s press release about the expansion), the only other complaints currently being taken by the CFPB are credit card and mortgage loan complaints. Director Cordray’s post further indicated that the CFPB would be taking complaints on all consumer financial products and services “by the end of the year.”
Much to our surprise, when we visited the CFPB’s website today to look at the CFPB’s complaint form for deposit accounts, we found that the website now also allows consumers to submit complaints about a “vehicle loan or consumer loan” and a “student loan.”
The complaint forms used for the three new categories are similar to the ones the CFPB already uses for credit card and mortgage loan complaints. The CFPB asks for information such as (1) a description of what happened, (2) the type of product involved, (3) the type of issue involved, (4) the consumer’s name, address and contact information, and (5) the “company name.” To identify the type of issue involved in a deposit account complaint, the consumer can select from categories that include “using a debit or ATM card” and “problems caused by my funds being low” (described as encompassing “overdraft fees, late fees, bounced checks, credit reporting.”) For vehicle and other consumer loans, the issue choices include shopping or taking out a loan or lease and managing the loan or lease (which is described as encompassing “billing, late fees, damage or loss, insurance (GAP, credit, etc.), credit reporting, privacy.”
For student loans, if the consumer indicates that his or her loan is a federal loan, a box appears indicating that the “CFPB can only help with non-federal student loans” and containing a link that redirects the consumer to the complaint form on the website of the Federal Student Aid Ombudsman of the Department of Education. If the consumer indicates that the loan is a non-federal loan, the consumer is asked to include the name of his or her school and its location in the description of what happened. The issue choices the consumer can select are getting a loan, repaying the loan (described as encompassing “fees, billing. deferment, forbearance, fraud, credit reporting.”), and “problems when you are unable to pay” (described as encompassing “default, debt collection, bankruptcy.”)
All three forms include some of the unsettling questions found on the credit card and mortgage loan complaint forms, such as “what do you think would be a fair resolution” (which seems likely to create unrealistic expectations for consumers.) and “do you believe the issue involves discrimination” (which seems likely to generate unfounded fair lending claims given that industry representatives have reported an apparent perception among many consumers that by claiming discrimination their complaint will receive a higher priority in the review process.)
The CFPB’s expansion of its complaint system to include deposit accounts dovetails with its newly-launched overdraft fee initiatives. In his blog post Director Cordray’s focus was on the “story after story” that the CFPB has heard “of consumers being hit with fees that they do not expect and do not understand.” Thus, it seems likely that the CFPB is expecting overdraft and other account fees to be the primary issue involved in the deposit account complaints it receives.
Director Cordray also stated in his post that as of February 22, the CFPB had received over 20,000 complaints, including about 7,000 on mortgages and about 12,000 on credit cards. He reported that the three major credit card issues coming to the CFPB have been consumer confusion, third-party fraud, and factual disputes between the consumer and issuer. For mortgages, he reported that foreclosures have been the biggest source of complaints.
We hope someone at the CFPB will soon be telling Director Cordray that there’s more to the CFPB’s complaint system than he seems to know about.