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Which Financial Product Gets the Most Consumer Complaints in Each State?

March 16, 2016
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Even as U.S. consumers feel strapped for cash, there’s been no shortage of complaints about financial companies, especially debt collectors.

Almost 169,000 complaints were filed in 2015 with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the government agency that enforces federal consumer financial laws. NerdWallet’s examination of the complaints found that debt collection companies gave U.S. consumers the biggest headache. The second most common complaint had to do with mortgage companies.

The map below displays the financial product that received the most complaints at the CFPB in 2015 in each state and Washington, D.C. Use your cursor and hover over a state to see the data for each location.

Key highlights

Debt collections caused the most misery. Complaints about debt collections led the way in 26 states. Mortgages were a close second, accounting for the most complaints in 21 states and Washington, D.C. Credit reporting complaints led the way in only two states, and credit card complaints outpaced all others in just one state — Vermont.

High rate of mortgage complaints in states with high homeowner costs. California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Washington, D.C., had the highest median monthly homeowner costs for housing units with mortgages, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2014 American Community Survey. So it may not be a surprise that consumers from those places complained about mortgages more than any other financial product.

Washington, D.C., residents made the most complaints, while North Dakota made the fewest. Washington, D.C., had 145 complaints about financial products per 100,000 residents in 2015, the highest rate in the country, followed by Delaware, Maryland, Nevada and Florida. North Dakota was at the other end of the spectrum with 20 complaints per 100,000 residents.

High rate of complaints about debt collections

Since it first began logging complaints in 2011, the CFPB has received more complaints about mortgages than any other product. However, a key reason for the high total is that it wasn’t until 2013 that the agency began accepting complaints about debt collections. CFPB spokeswoman Moira Vahey said the financial product or service that now gets the highest rate of complaints per month has to do with debt collections.

“Nearly 1 out of every 10 American consumers came out of the financial crisis with one or more debts in collection,” she said. “This market is also one of the single biggest sources of complaints to the federal government.”

Vahey said the CFPB is in the process of developing proposed rules to increase consumer protections in the debt collections marketplace.

There has been an average of 6,766 debt collection complaints per month since the agency began recording them three years ago, according to the CFPB’s Monthly Complaint Report in January 2016. That compares with an average of 4,202 mortgage-related complaints per month since 2011. Complaints about credit reporting are the third most common problem reported to the CFPB.

To see every state’s rate of complaints per 100,000 residents for debt collections, mortgages, credit reporting, credit cards and bank accounts, click on a category and move your cursor over the map.

All data are from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau from U.S. consumer complaints in 2015.

Sreekar Jasthi is a data analyst at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: [email protected].

Image via iStock.