When it comes to financial products and services, consumers had a lot to gripe about in 2016. People across the U.S. submitted more than 168,000 complaints with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau during the first 11 months of the year. Those complaints against banks, lenders and other companies are up 9.3% from the same period a year earlier.
A NerdWallet analysis found that consumer complaints largely clustered around credit reporting, mortgages and debt collection.
Credit reporting complaints predominated in 21 states. Of those, Georgia’s complaint rate of 25.2 records per 100,000 residents was the highest, while Arkansas’ rate of 6.0 per 100,000 was the lowest. In instances when consumers cited a specific issue, incorrect information on a credit report was by far the most common problem (73.8% of complaints).
In 15 states and Washington, D.C., mortgage problems were the top concern. Washington, D.C.’s mortgage complaint rate of 32.6 per 100,000 people was the highest, while Wisconsin’s rate of 6.5 per 100,000 was the lowest among states where mortgages were the dominant issue. In Rhode Island, mortgage complaints made up 29.3% of all complaints, the highest percentage in any state. Overall, complaints that called out specific issues cited problems with loan servicing, payments or escrow accounts 41.1% of the time.
Debt collection garnered the most complaints in 13 states. In South Dakota, nearly three in 10 complaints this year were about debt collection. At 23.2 records per 100,000 residents, Washington, D.C.’s rate of debt collection complaints was the nation’s highest, while West Virginia’s rate of 3.9 per 100,000 people was the lowest among states where debt collection was the top concern. Among all consumers who cited specific debt collection issues, 40.9% pointed to companies’ continued attempts to collect debts that were not owed.
The CFPB said it wasn’t clear whether the upswing in complaints was caused by worsening conditions or greater consumer awareness of the bureau’s efforts.
See the full report for more details about the analysis and methodology.
Caren Weiner Campbell is a former banking and studies writer for NerdWallet. Her work has been featured by Money magazine and The New York Times.