The CFPB’s Office of Servicemember Affairs released its fourth annual report highlighting complaints submitted in 2015 by servicemembers, veterans, and their families.
The report states that in 2015, the CFPB received approximately 19,200 complaints from members of the military community. (Total complaints received by the CFPB in 2015 were approximately 271,600.) Approximately 71 percent of the military complaints were submitted through the CFPB’s website, with the balance submitted by telephone, mail, email and fax. In 2015, the CFPB received 13% more military complaints than it received in 2014.
The three most-complained-about products or services were debt collection, mortgages, and credit reporting. Of the total military complaints, approximately 46% (8,900) involved debt collection. The report indicates that military consumers submitted debt collection complaints at almost twice the rate of the general consumer population.
Specific issues involved in military complaints included:
- Debt collection: Approximately 44 percent of the 8,900 debt collection complaints involved attempts to collect a debt that the servicemember believed was not owed. Approximately 17 percent of the debt collection complaints involved communication tactics, such as calls to third parties, including commanding officers. Medical debt was involved in approximately 13 percent of debt collection complaints, such as attempts to collect medical bills believed to be covered by VA health insurance.
- Mortgages: Approximately 2,800 complaints concerned mortgages, with the most common complaint involving problems faced due to inability to make payments, such as problems with loan modifications, collections, and foreclosures. In particular, servicemembers complained about loss mitigation options when receiving a permanent change of station order requiring them to relocate.
- Credit Reporting: Approximately 2,200 complaints concerned credit reporting, with 72% of such complaints involving claims of incorrect information on credit reports.
The report also describes CFPB outreach efforts to the military community, such as visits to military installations, and 2015 enforcement actions involving servicemember issues. Those enforcement actions included an action against processors of military allotments and another against a mortgage lender alleged to have engaged in deceptive advertising by falsely suggesting that the lender was affiliated with the U.S. government.