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Consumer Complaints to CFPB Nearly Double in 2013

Consumer complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) nearly doubled over the course of 2013, the agency revealed in an annual report.

According to CFPB’s figures, complaint volume last year totaled 163,700, an 80 percent increase from the 91,000 recorded complaints in 2012. Including this year, the bureau has received more than 310,000 complaints to date.

The leap in volume underscores the challenges that still remain despite the progress made by financial industries in the last few years.

“Consumer complaints have become central to the work of this agency. They enable us to listen to, and amplify, the concerns of any American who wants to be heard,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “They are also our compass. They make a difference by informing our work and helping us identify and prioritize problems for potential action.”

Areas of dissatisfaction ranged from bank accounts to debt collection to all manner of loans—including mortgages, which represented the greatest share of complaint volume at 37 percent.

At 59 percent, the greatest share of mortgage-related issues came up when borrowers were unable to pay, “such as issues relating to loan modifications, collections, or foreclosures,” CFPB said in its report. At a distant second in volume was “making payments” (26 percent), followed by complaints about applying for a loan (8 percent).

“For consumers applying for a mortgage loan, consumers raise issues related to interest rate-lock agreements, such as lenders refusing to honor rate-locks, or assessing penalties when the loan does not close,” the agency explained.

Upon receiving a complaint, CFPB expects companies to respond within 15 days and to provide a description of the steps taken or planned. According to the bureau, companies have responded to more than 93 percent of complaints sent to them, and consumers have disputed 21 percent of those responses.

About 7 percent of complaints end up with some form of monetary relief, according to CFPB, with the median amount coming to $460 for mortgage-related complaints.

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