The CFPB’s Office of Servicemember Affairs has released its annual report on complaints submitted to the Bureau by servicemembers.

The report covers the period April 1, 2017 through August 31, 2018.  During that period, the Bureau received approximately 48,800 complaints from servicemembers, with credit reporting, debt collection, and mortgages, respectively, the first, second, and third most-complained-about financial products or services.  The majority of credit reporting complaints involved perceived inaccuracies on servicemembers’ credit reports.  The most common type of debt collection and mortgage complaints were, respectively, continued attempts to collect a debt that the servicemember believes is not owed and problems servicemembers faced when unable to make payments, such as issues relating to loan modifications or collections.

The report includes a section entitled “How servicemembers interact with financial products” that provides examples of the rates at which servicemembers and veterans use common consumer financial products and services, such as checking accounts, credit cards, and auto loans or leases.

Another section of the report entitled “Emerging issues and continuing trends in the financial marketplace for servicemembers” discusses various issues experienced by servicemembers and the CFPB’s work in response.  These issues include:

  • Heightened concern about inaccuracies on credit reports due to new Department of Defense security clearance rules that include a “continuing monitoring” policy under which servicemembers’ credit histories are checked automatically rather than periodically (e.g. every 5 years).  The Bureau states that it often hears from servicemembers “who are worried that incorrect information on their credit reports will put their security clearance, duty status, potential promotion, or even military career in jeopardy.”
  • Medical debt on credit reports, in part due to greater use by servicemembers of civilian emergency care and outpatient services that require out of pocket payments.
  • Difficulty repaying debts owed to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
  • Vulnerability of servicemembers to telecommunications debt due to frequent moves and the accompanying need to suspend or cancel and re-establish telecommunications services.
  • Confusion resulting from waivers or reductions of annual fees charged to servicemembers in connection with premium credit cards.  (The Bureau indicated that once it identified this trend in credit card complaints, it worked with a particular credit card company whose waiver notice to consumers was found to have created the confusion to craft a clarifying letter to affected consumers.  The Bureau stated that “since collaboratively addressing the problem through education with an industry partner, we have seen a significant decrease in this specific complaint type about this company.”)
  • Student loan servicing problems such as delayed processing of applications for income-driven repayment or misapplied payments and difficulty accessing disability discharge protections.
  • Insufficient understanding of auto add-on products, including not understanding that such products are optional, would be added to the amount financed, and with regard to GAP, that the insurance can be voided if the servicemember’s car is taken overseas.

 

The CFPB has issued a request for information that seeks comment on its handling of consumer complaints and inquiries.  Comments on the RFI must be received by July 16, 2018.

The CFPB defines consumer complaints as “submissions that express dissatisfaction with, or communicate suspicion of wrongful conduct by, an identifiable entity related to a consumer’s personal experience with a financial product or service.”  It defines “consumer inquiries” as “consumer requests for information—typically proffered by telephone—to its Office of Consumer Response about consumer financial products and services, the status of a complaint, an action taken by the Bureau, and often combinations thereof.”

The CFPB seeks feedback on all aspects of its consumer complaint and inquiry handling process, including the following:

  • Specific statutorily-permitted suggestions regarding how the CFPB currently allows consumers to submit complaints and inquiries, including whether the CFPB should require consumers to classify their submission affirmatively as a complaint or inquiry prior to submission
  • Specific statutorily-permitted suggestions regarding the CFPB’s consumer complaint process, such as whether the CFPB should add or discontinue any channels for accepting complaints or expand, limit, or maintain the ability of authorized third parties to submit complaints
  • Specific statutorily-permitted suggestions regarding the CFPB’s consumer inquiry process, such as whether the CFPB should add or discontinue any channels for accepting inquiries, develop web chat systems to support consumers’ submission of inquiries, develop a process for companies to provide timely responses to consumer inquiries sent to them by the CFPB, or publish data about consumer inquiries

The new RFI represents the twelfth and final RFI in the series of RFIs announced by Mr. Mulvaney.  The subjects of the CFPB’s first eleven RFIs and their comment deadlines are as follows:

(The initial comment deadlines for the first three RFIs listed above were extended to the dates indicated.)

 

According to its newly-released Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book, the FTC received complaints from 2.68 million consumers in 2017, a decrease from 2016 when 2.98 million consumers submitted complaints.  The annual report, which does not include do-not-call complaints, provides national and state-by-state data on consumer complaints received by the FTC.  While the number of complaints declined, consumers reported losing a total of $905 million to fraud in 2017, which was $63 million more than in 2016.

Despite the use of the term “complaints” in the FTC’s press release and numerous references to “complaints” in the new annual report, the new report states that it refers to “consumer reports” rather than “complaints” because “[o]ften, people make these reports after they have experienced something problematic in the marketplace, avoided a loss, and decided to alert others.”

Debt collection was the most-reported category in 2017.  Identity theft was the second-most reported category in 2017, with credit card fraud the most common type of identity theft reported and tax fraud the second most common type.  Imposter scam reports, which the FTC describes as reports about someone pretending to be a trusted person to get consumers to send money or give personal information, was the third-most reported category in 2017.

The other two “top-five” report categories in 2017 were telephone and mobile services (fourth) and banks and lenders (fifth).  For military consumers, identity theft was the top report category in 2017.

The Consumer Sentinel Network is an online database of consumer complaints maintained by the FTC.  Other federal and state law enforcement agencies contribute to the database, including the CFPB and the offices of 20 state attorneys general (who are listed on page 86 of the report).  Private-sector organizations contributing data include the Council of Better Business Bureaus, which consists of all North American Better Business Bureaus.

Any federal, state, or local law enforcement agency can obtain access to the database by entering into a confidentiality and data security agreement with the FTC. Certain international law enforcement authorities are also allowed access.

While the data only reflect ”unverified reports filed by consumers,” regardless of merit, the report nevertheless could significantly affect the industries targeted by the complaints. The FTC and state attorneys general have long used consumer complaints to identify victims and potential targets for investigations, and Mick Mulvaney, President Trump’s appointee as CFPB Acting Director has indicated that the CFPB will continue to use complaints in setting its priorities.

Because industries receiving a large number of complaints are more likely to draw a regulator’s attention, minimizing the number of consumers who complain to the FTC, CFPB, or other consumer watchdogs is an essential first step to reducing potential exposure.  To accomplish this, it is important for companies to establish their own systems to track and resolve complaints. CFPB examination procedures specifically instruct examiners to assess the quality of a company’s complaints system.

The CFPB’s July 2017 complaint report, which the CFPB calls another “special edition complaint report,” departs from the format of the CFPB’s standard monthly reports.  (The CFPB’s June 2017 complaint report was also called a “special edition.”)  Instead of analyzing monthly complaint trends and highlighting complaints received about a particular product and from consumers in a particular state and city, the new report focuses on annual complaint volume by product for 2014-2016 and the channels used by consumers to submit such complaints.  (Total complaints by month and product through March 31, 2017 is shown in an appendix.)

The report includes the following data:

  •  As of July 1, 2017, the CFPB has handled over 1,242,800 consumer complaints.
  • Companies have provided timely responses to approximately 97% of complaints sent to them by the CFPB for response.

The new report also discusses (1) the meaning of the various response categories available to companies and provides aggregate data on a product-by-product basis showing the response categories used by companies through March 1, 2017, and (2) consumer feedback about companies’ responses and provides data on a product-by-product basis showing the percentage of company responses disputed by consumers through March 31, 2017.  For example, the report shows that consumers complaining about mortgages disputed 23% of company responses while customers complaining about prepaid cards disputed 14% of company responses.

We were pleased to see an acknowledgment by the CFPB that while information about consumer disputes of company responses “is an indicator of consumer satisfaction with companies’ responses to consumers’ issues, it has some limitations.”  As an example, the CFPB observes that “quantitative dispute data does not provide insight into the reasons why a consumer was dissatisfied with the company’s response to their complaint and dispute data does not reflect the positive feedback consumers have about how companies have addressed their concerns.”

The CFPB has issued its May 2017 complaint report highlighting complaints from “older consumers,” who the CFPB defines as consumers who voluntarily reported their age as 62 or older.  The CFPB reports that consumers voluntarily reported their age in 54 percent of complaints.

General findings include the following:

  • As of April 1, 2017, the CFPB handled approximately 1,163,200 complaints nationally, of which approximately 103,100 (9 percent) were submitted by older consumers, including approximately 2,200 older consumer complaints in March 2017.  (The CFPB does not explain why the numbers it provides for complaints handled nationally do not reflect complaints submitted as of May 1, 2017 or why it has provided the number of older consumer complaints submitted in March 2017 rather than in April 2017.)
  • In the 54 percent of complaints submitted by older consumers, debt collection, mortgages, and credit reporting were the top three most-complained-about financial products or services, representing about 60 percent of older consumer complaints submitted in March 2017.
  • A higher percentage of complaints submitted by older consumers involved mortgages, credit cards, and bank accounts and services than complaints from non-older consumers.  The percentage of complaints submitted by older consumers involving debt collection was lower than the percentage of such complaints submitted by non-older consumers.
  • The most common issues identified by older consumers in mortgage complaints were problems when unable to pay (loan modification/collection/foreclosure), making payments (servicing/collection/foreclosure), and applying for a loan (application/originator/mortgage broker).  The first two categories collectively represented 79 percent of mortgage complaints.
  • The most common issues identified by older consumers in credit card complaints were problems with billing disputes, identify theft/fraud/embezzlement, and other.
  • The most common complaints about bank accounts or services were problems with account management, deposits and withdrawals, and problems caused by low funds.

Findings about reverse mortgages include the following:

  • The CFPB based its findings on complaints submitted by all consumers rather than only complaints where the consumer reported his or her age because most reverse mortgages are linked to older consumers due to the requirements of Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECMs).
  • The most common issues identified by consumers were problems when unable to pay (loan modification/collection/foreclosure), making payments (servicing/collection/foreclosure), and applying for a loan (application/originator/mortgage broker).  The first two categories collectively represented 72 percent of reverse mortgage complaints.
  • Experiences reported by consumers included difficulties encountered with servicers by non-borrowing spouses or successors in interest seeking to remain in the property following the borrower’s death or to purchase or sell the property.

Findings regarding issues raised by older consumers that are unique to or have unique effects for older consumers include the following:

  • Older consumers complained that escrow payments and analysis statements did not accurately reflect the benefits of property tax relief programs that reduce obligations for consumers that fulfill certain income, age, ownership status, disability, or other assets requirements.
  • Older consumers who turned to credit cards to cover large expenses, which were often medical, reported not understanding a card’s terms and conditions such as the distinction between deferred interest and no interest.
  • Older consumers reported difficulties using a power of attorney at financial institutions, such as the need to use company-specific forms, and difficulty in navigating the steps for taking control of financial assets after the death  of a spouse or family member.

 

The CFPB has issued its April 2017 complaint report that highlights student loan complaints.  The report also highlights complaints from consumers in Nevada and the Las Vegas metro area.

On June 8, 2017, from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. ET, Ballard Spahr will hold a webinar, “CFPB Criticism of Student Loan Servicers – What’s Coming Next?”  Click here to register.

General findings include the following:

  • As of April 1, 2017, the CFPB handled approximately 1,163,200 complaints nationally, including approximately 28,000 complaints in March 2017.
  • Debt collection continued to be the most-complained-about financial product or service in March 2017, representing about 31 percent of complaints submitted.
  • Debt collection complaints, together with complaints about credit reporting and student loans, collectively represented about 65 percent of the complaints submitted in March 2017.
  • Complaints about student loans showed the greatest month-over-month decrease, decreasing 20 percent from February 2017.  At the same time, student loans had the greatest percentage increase based on a three-month average, increasing about 325 percent from the same time last year (January 2016 to March 2016 compared with January 2017 to March 2017).  In February 2016, the CFPB began accepting complaints about federal student loans.  Previously, such complaints were directed to the Department of Education.  As we have noted in blog posts about prior CFPB monthly complaint reports issued beginning in April 2016, rather than reflecting an increase in the number of borrowers making student loan complaints, the increasing percentages represented by student loan complaints received by the CFPB most likely reflected the change in where such complaints were sent.  For the first time, the CFPB has acknowledged the impact of such change, stating “Part of [the 325 percent year-to-year increase] can be attributed to the CFPB updating its student loan complaint form to accept complaints about Federal student loan servicing, starting in late February 2016.”
  • Payday loans showed the greatest percentage decrease based on a three-month average, decreasing about 29 percent from the same time last year (January 2016 to March 2016 compared with January 2017 to March 2017).  Complaints during those periods decreased from 417 complaints in 2016 to 298 complaints in 2017.  In the February and March 2017 complaint reports, payday loans also showed the greatest percentage decrease based on a three-month average.

Findings regarding student loan complaints include the following:

  • The CFPB has handled approximately 44,400 student loan complaints since July 21, 2011, representing 4 percent of all complaints.
  • The most common issues identified in complaints involved problems dealing with lenders or servicers and being unable to repay loans.
  • Federal student loan borrowers contacting servicers about financial distress complained about receiving information about hardship forbearance and deferment instead of options such as income-driven repayment plans.  Borrowers also complained about difficulty enrolling in such plans and unclear guidance when seeking to switch plans.
  • Federal student loan borrowers reported not receiving sufficient information from servicers to meet recertification deadlines for income-driven repayment plans.  They also complained about misapplication of payments, such as payments being applied to all accounts handled by a servicer rather than specific accounts and overpayments intended to reduce the principal balance being treated as early payments that put the accounts in paid ahead status.  Borrowers also reported various problems with Public Student Loan Forgiveness and other forgiveness programs, such as not being enrolled in a qualifying program despite years of making payments.
  • Non-federal loan borrowers complained about misapplied payments and inaccurate accounting of payments.
  • Federal and non-federal loan borrowers reported issues involving incorrect reporting to consumer reporting companies.  (The CFPB does not provide enough information in the report to determine the number of complaints that involved the issues described above.)

Findings regarding complaints from Nevada consumers include the following:

  • As of April 1, 2017, approximately 14,600 complaints were submitted by Nevada consumers of which approximately 10,800 were from Las Vegas consumers.
  • Debt collection was the most-complained-about product, representing 29 percent of all complaints submitted by Nevada consumers, which was higher than the national average rate of 27 percent of all complaints submitted by consumers.
  • Average monthly complaints received from Nevada consumers increased 17 percent from the same time last year (January 2016 to March 2016 compared with January 2017 to March 2017), lower than the increase of 19 percent nationally.

 

 

The CFPB has issued its March 2017 complaint report that highlights credit card complaints.  The report also highlights complaints from consumers in Massachusetts and the Boston metro area.  On April 13, 2017, from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.ET, Ballard Spahr will hold a webinar, “The CFPB’s Consumer Credit Card Market RFI and Other Important Recent Credit Card Developments.”  Click here for more information and a link to register.

General findings include the following:

  • As of March 1, 2017, the CFPB handled approximately 1,136,000 complaints nationally, including approximately 26,300 complaints in February 2017.
  • Debt collection continued to be the most-complained-about financial product or service in February 2017, representing about 30 percent of complaints submitted.
  • Debt collection complaints, together with complaints about credit reporting and student loans, collectively represented about 62 percent of the complaints submitted in February 2017.
  • Complaints about student loans showed the greatest month-over-month decrease, decreasing 51 percent from January 2017.  According to the CFPB, there was a spike in student loan complaints in January 2017 “around the time the CFPB took a major enforcement action against a loan servicer.”  At the same time, student loans had the greatest percentage increase based on a three-month average, increasing about 429 percent from the same time last year (December 2015 to February 2016 compared with December 2016 to February 2017).  In February 2016, the CFPB began accepting complaints about federal student loans.  Previously, such complaints were directed to the Department of Education.  As we have noted in blog posts about prior CFPB monthly complaint reports issued beginning in April 2016, rather than reflecting an increase in the number of borrowers making student loan complaints, the increasing percentages represented by student loan complaints received by the CFPB most likely reflects the change in where such complaints are sent.
  • Payday loans showed the greatest percentage decrease based on a three-month average, decreasing about 286 percent from the same time last year (December 2015 to February 2016 compared with December 2016 to February 2017).  Complaints during those periods decreased from 399 complaints in 2015/2016 to 286 complaints in 2016/2017.  In the February 2017 complaint report, payday loans also showed the greatest percentage decrease based on a three-month average.
  • Montana, Georgia, Missouri, and South Carolina experienced the greatest complaint volume increases from the same time last year  (December 2015 to February 2016 compared with December 2016 to February 2017) with increases of, respectively, 53, 53, 39, and 39 percent.
  • West Virginia, Kansas, and New Hampshire experienced the greatest complaint volume decreases from the same time last year (December 2015 to February 2016 compared with December 2016 to February 2017) with decreases of, respectively, 6,  3, and 3 percent.

Findings regarding credit card complaints include the following:

  • The CFPB has handled approximately 116,200 credit card complaints since July 21, 2011, making credit cards the fourth-most-complained-about product, representing 10 percent of all complaints.
  • The most common issues identified in complaints involved billing disputes, particularly disputes involving fraudulent charges.  Consumers complained about the receipt of confusing guidance when notifying their credit card company of such charges and difficulty in having the charges removed even after receiving notice from the credit card company that the dispute was resolved favorably.
  • Consumers complained about problems with rewards programs, such as being unable to take advantage of benefits after meeting program requirements for such benefits and online information that contradicted information received from customer representatives.
  • Consumers complained about the terms of deferred-interest programs, including confusion as to how payments were applied to multiple balances.  Deferred-interest and rewards programs are among the topics on which the CFPB is seeking information in the RFI about the credit card market that it issued last month.
  • Consumers reported issues related to card issuance, such as unsolicited credit cards and problems arising in portfolio conversions from one lender to another.

Findings regarding complaints from Massachusetts consumers include the following:

  • As of March 1, 2017, approximately 20,600 complaints were submitted by Massachusetts consumers of which approximately 15,400 were from Boston consumers.
  • Mortgages was the most-complained-about product, representing 26 percent of all complaints submitted by Massachusetts consumers, which was higher than the national average rate of 24 percent of all complaints submitted by consumers.
  • Average monthly complaints received from Massachusetts consumers increased 19 percent from the same time last year (December 2015 to February 2016 compared with December 2016 to February 2017), lower than the increase of 22 percent nationally.

 

The CFPB has issued its February 2017 complaint report that highlights credit reporting complaints.  The report also highlights complaints from consumers in Louisiana and the New Orleans metro areas.

General findings include the following:

  • As of February 1, 2017, the CFPB handled approximately 1,110,100 complaints nationally, including approximately 29,700 complaints in January 2017.
  • Debt collection continued to be the most-complained-about financial product or service in December 2016, representing about 26 percent of complaints submitted.
  • For the first time, student loans replaced mortgages in the “top three” complaint categories with debt collection complaints, together with complaints about credit reporting and student loans, collectively representing about 60 percent of the complaints submitted in January 2017.  This likely reflects the increase in the number of student loan complaints received in January 2017 as compared with December 2016. Complaints about student loans showed the greatest month-over-month increase, increasing 537 percent from December 2016.  Student loans also had the greatest percentage increase based on a three-month average, increasing about 388 percent from the same time last year (November 2015 to January 2016 compared with November 2016 to January 2017).  In February 2016, the CFPB began accepting complaints about federal student loans.  Previously, such complaints were directed to the Department of Education.  As we have noted in blog posts about prior CFPB monthly complaint reports issued beginning in April 2016, rather than reflecting an increase in the number of borrowers making student loan complaints, the increasing percentages represented by student loan complaints received by the CFPB most likely reflects the change in where such complaints are sent.
  • Payday loans showed the greatest percentage decrease based on a three-month average, decreasing about 26 percent from the same time last year (November 2015 to January 2016 compared with November 2016 to January 2017).  Complaints during those periods decreased from 408 complaints in 2015/2016 to 302 complaints in 2016/2017.
  • Georgia, South Dakota, and Mississippi experienced the greatest complaint volume increases from the same time last year  (November 2015 to January 2016 compared with November 2016 to January 2017) with increases of, respectively, 59, 43, and 34 percent.
  • Delaware, New Hampshire, and Hawaii experienced the greatest complaint volume decreases from the same time last year (November 2015 to January 2016 compared with November 2016 to January 2017) with decreases of, respectively, 8, 8, and 4 percent.

Findings regarding credit reporting complaints include the following:

  • The CFPB has handled approximately 185,700 credit reporting complaints.
  • The most common issues identified in complaints involved problems with incorrect information on credit reports and investigations by credit reporting companies.  Consumers complained about the process for disputing information on credit reports, such as difficulties in submitting disputes through phone and mail channels, authentication questions or other barriers to submitting disputes, and problems receiving results of investigations.
  • Consumers complained about the process for blocking and removing information resulting from identity theft and credit inquiries claimed not to have been initiated by the consumer.
  • Many consumer complaints about credit scoring reflect confusion over the variety of scores, scoring factors that  accompany credit score information, and receipt of varying scores from different reporting agencies.

Findings regarding complaints from Louisiana consumers include the following:

  • As of February 1, 2017, approximately 12,400 complaints were submitted by Louisiana consumers of which approximately 4,500 were from New Orleans consumers.
  • Debt collection was the most-complained-about product, representing 34 percent of all complaints submitted by Louisiana consumers, which was higher than the national average rate of 27 percent of all complaints submitted by consumers.
  • Average monthly complaints received from Louisiana consumers increased 31 percent from the same time last year (November 2015 to January 2016 compared with November 2016 to January 2017), higher than the increase of 21 percent nationally.

 

The CFPB has issued its January 2017 complaint report that highlights mortgage complaints.  The report also highlights complaints from consumers in Tennessee and the Memphis and Nashville metro areas.

General findings include the following:

  • As of January 1, 2017, the CFPB handled approximately 1,080,700 complaints nationally, including approximately 22,900 complaints in December 2016.
  • Debt collection continued to be the most-complained-about financial product or service in December 2016, representing about 31 percent of complaints submitted.  Debt collection complaints, together with complaints about credit reporting and mortgages, collectively represented about 65 percent of the complaints submitted in December 2016.
  • Complaints about student loans showed the greatest percentage increase based on a three-month average, increasing about 109 percent from the same time last year (October to December 2015 compared with October to December 2016).  In February 2016, the CFPB began accepting complaints about federal student loans.  Previously, such complaints were directed to the Department of Education.  As we have noted in blog posts about prior complaint reports issued beginning in April 2016, rather than reflecting an increase in the number of borrowers making student loan complaints, the increase most likely reflects the change in where such complaints are sent.
  • Prepaid card complaints showed the greatest percentage decrease based on a three-month average, decreasing about 59 percent from the same time last year (October to December 2015 compared with October to December 2016).  Complaints during those periods decreased from 458 complaints in 2015 to 189 complaints in 2016.  Prepaid cards also showed the greatest decrease based on a three-month average in the November and December 2016 complaint reports.
  • Payday loan complaints in December 2016 were 23 percent less than payday loan complaints in November 2016, representing the product with the greatest month-over-month decrease in complaints.
  • Alaska, Georgia, and Louisiana experienced the greatest complaint volume increases from the same time last year (October to December 2015 compared with October to December 2016) with increases of, respectively, 357,46, and 32 percent.
  • Wyoming, Vermont, and Delaware experienced the greatest complaint volume decreases from the same time last year (October to December 2015 compared with October to December 2016) with decreases of, respectively, 20, 19, and 12 percent.

Findings regarding mortgage complaints include the following:

  • The CFPB has handled approximately 260,500 mortgage complaints.
  • The CFPB found a trend of consumers increasingly identifying issues relating to the issue of “making payments” (which covers loan servicing, payments, escrow accounts).
  • Consumers reported issues involving escrow account shortages, such as the misapplication of funds resulting in an increase in the monthly payment and a lack of explanation for shortages. Other escrow-related issues included the servicer’s purchase of hazard insurance despite the consumer’s provision of proof of coverage and the servicer’s failure to timely submit insurance payments resulting in inadequate coverage.
  • Consumers complained about the loss of timely payments by servicers resulting in negative credit reporting and improper crediting by servicers of electronic monthly payments made via bill pay services through their financial institutions..
  • Consumers attempting to negotiate loss mitigation assistance complained that servicers were slow to respond, made repeated requests for already submitted documents, and provided ambiguous denial reasons.

Findings regarding complaints from Tennessee consumers include the following:

  • As of January 1, 2017, approximately 17,800 complaints were submitted by Tennessee consumers of which approximately 4,700 and 5,800 were from Memphis and Nashville consumers, respectively.
  • Debt collection was the most-complained-about product, representing 34 percent of all complaints submitted by Tennessee consumers, which was higher than the national average rate of 27 percent of all complaints submitted by consumers.
  • Average monthly complaints received from Tennessee consumers increased 8 percent from the same time last year (October to December 2015 to October to December 2016), higher than the increase of 12 percent nationally.

The CFPB has released an overview of an updated online company portal for viewing and responding to consumer complaints that it plans to launch in early 2017.

The overview is intended to serve “only as a first glance at the updated system and is designed to highlight key Portal updates and changes.”  The CFPB states that, before the updated system goes live, it will provide “informative materials and training opportunities, including a revised company portal manual, training webinars, and detailed log-in instructions.”  The CFPB also plans to offer support sessions after the updated system goes live.

The changes described in the overview fall into two categories.  First, the CFPB describes a series of changes designed to make “it easier and faster for companies to receive and respond to complaints.”  These changes include a company dashboard, simplified company response data entry, and an expanded character count for text boxes.

The second series of changes described by the CFPB are designed to make “it easier for companies to analyze and interpret the data associated with those complaints.”  These changes include a “better” search and data export tool, the addition of timestamps on all company responses, and a new PDF export option.