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CFPB Reports 54% Spike in Consumer Complaints in 2020

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) reported a 54 percent increase in consumer complaints last year when compared to 2019.

According to the CFPB’s 2020 Consumer Response Annual Report, the bureau handled approximately 542,300 complaints in 2020 versus about 352,400 complaints handled in 2019.

“The pandemic has been among the most disruptive long-term events we will see in our lifetimes,” said CFPB Acting Director Dave Uejio. “Not surprisingly, the shockwaves it sent across the planet were felt deeply in the consumer financial marketplace. Consumer complaints provide the CFPB with an important real-time window into where consumers encounter problems in the marketplace. The CFPB expects companies to respond to these concerns and that consumers receive responses from companies that address the issues consumers raise in their complaints.”

The report reflects issues consumers reported to the CFPB in 2020 as influenced by numerous factors including changing market conditions. The report includes analyses of complaints across multiple consumer financial products and services.

According to the CFPB report:

  • Credit and consumer reporting complaints accounted for more than 58% of complaints received, followed by debt collection (15%), credit card (7%), checking or savings (6%), and mortgage complaints (5%).
  • Beginning in April 2020, consumers began to submit more than 3,000 complaints mentioning coronavirus keywords nearly every month. Consumers submitted approximately 32,100 complaints mentioning coronavirus or related keywords in 2020. Absence of coronavirus as a keyword in a complaint does not necessarily mean the complaint was not related to the financial impact of the pandemic.
  • Consumers from Florida submitted more complaints per capita than consumers from any other state (309 complaints submitted per 100,000 in population).
  • The CFPB received 40,800 complaints from self-identified servicemembers, veterans and military families.

Specific to mortgages, the CFPB received roughly 29,400 complaints in 2020. The bureau sent about 25,100 (or 85%) of these complaints to companies for review and response, referred 9% to other regulatory agencies, and found 5% to be incomplete. According to the report, companies responded to approximately 98% of mortgage complaints sent to them for review and response. Companies closed 88% of complaints with an explanation, 3% with non-monetary relief and 4% with monetary relief.

CFPB complaints

Consumers identified the issue that best described the problem they experienced. For mortgage complaints, options included: applying for a mortgage or refinancing an existing mortgage; closing on a mortgage; problem with a credit or consumer report; struggling to pay mortgage; and, trouble during payment process. The most common issue was trouble during payment process (47%). Issues regarding mortgage closings accounted for 10%of the complaints.


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