The National Community Reinvestment Council (NCRC) has issued an analysis by zip code of consumer complaints received by the CFPB about bank accounts. The analysis used complaint data in the CFPB’s publicly available database that was available on June 20, 2013.
In looking at complaint volume, the analysis found that over 60% of the bank account complaints came from predominately white communities. However, in looking at complaint frequency, the NCRC concluded that predominately minority communities were more likely to submit complaints related to poor service than predominately white communities and residents in predominately minority communities were more likely to receive monetary relief as compensation for their complaints. (The NCRC notes that the CFPB’s database does not indicate whether a consumer was satisfied with a complaint’s resolution or continued a relationship with the bank.)
The NCRC indicated that the pattern for not receiving relief was similar to the pattern for complaints. It found that predominately minority communities were also more likely to have their complaints closed without relief. (Based on this finding, the NCRC characterizes predominately minority communities as more likely to have their complaints “unaddressed by banks.”)
In its recommendations, the NCRC calls upon the CFPB and the federal prudential regulators to develop a joint complaint database covering all banks and credit unions. It also calls upon the CFPB to provide more detail about the nature of complaints in its public database and include short narrative descriptions of the complaints so that the public knows more about the issue involved in a complaint.
The NCRC further recommends that the prudential regulators use the consumer complaint database as a component of CRA exams and that federal regulatory agencies “further investigate complaint data for individual institutions to determine instances in which violations of consumer protection or anti-discrimination law occur.”