The CFPB has issued its Consumer Response Annual Report, which analyzes the approximately 329,800 complaints received by the CFPB between January 1 and December 31, 2018. The Report details the trends in consumer complaints across various categories and provides information about the CFPB’s process for handling complaints.

Of the 329,800 complaints received in 2018, the CFPB sent approximately 80% of the complaints to companies for review and response, referred 14% to other regulatory agencies, and found 4% to be incomplete. At the end of the reporting period, approximately 0.4% of complaints were pending with the consumer, while 1% were pending with the CFPB.

Companies responded to the vast majority of complaints sent to them for review. Approximately 4% of such complaints were closed with monetary relief; 12% were closed with non-monetary relief (e.g., mortgage foreclosure alternatives, stopping unwanted calls from debt collectors, correcting information in a consumer report, etc.); 74% were closed with explanation (i.e., the response substantively meets the consumer’s desired resolution or explains why no action was taken); 3% resulted in an administrative response requiring further review by the CFPB; 5% are still being reviewed by the company; and, 2% did not receive a timely response.

According to the CFPB’s breakdown by category, complaints regarding credit reporting (126,300 or 38%), debt collection (81,500 or 25%), mortgages (30,100 or 9%), credit cards (28,700 or 9%), and checking or savings (25,900 or 8%) accounted for approximately 89% of the 329,800 total complaints. Servicemembers submitted complaints at similar rates as non-servicemembers. Older consumers, in contrast, complained less often about credit reporting, debt collection, and student loans and more often about mortgage, credit card, and checking and savings issues than consumers under 62 years old.

Several complaint categories saw considerable change from 2017. Complaints decreased from 2017 numbers in the categories of student loans (-48%), payday loans (-20%), personal loans (-19%), and mortgages (-19%). Complaints increased in 2018 most significantly for credit repair (+33%), money transfers/virtual currency (+31%), and credit reporting (+27%).

Notably, the CFPB recognizes that market information, such as product or service market size and company share, is often necessary to put the number of consumer complaints (including the number of complaints involving a specific company) into context. However, it “has not yet identified an approach to contextualize multiple products, services, and markets without imposing a significant burden on companies to provide data” and “continues to welcome suggestions and best practices about how to publish information about complaints.”

Since complaints continue to play a role in the Bureau’s use of its supervisory and enforcement authority, minimizing the number of consumer complaints submitted to the CFPB remains a key step to avoid ending up on the regulator’s radar.