The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s complaint process

This government organization is interested in learning about any issues you’ve had with financial institutions. To safeguard customers and uphold regulations pertaining to financial products and services, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) was founded in 2011. The CFPB developed a complaint tool in 2013 to enable customers to get in touch with the organization directly and express their worries about credit and consumer reports, debt collection, credit card accounts, checking or savings accounts, and mortgage issues.

However, how does the CFPB complaint procedure operate, and can filing a complaint result in a resolution? Let’s go through the fundamentals.

How Do CFPB Complaints Operate?

Concerns regarding financial products such bank accounts, credit cards, loans, credit reports, and debts are accepted by the CFPB. You and the company you have a problem with may be able to communicate through the CFPB complaint process. The CFPB method may be useful if you’ve been unable to remedy the problem or contact the appropriate person at a company.

Your complaint might perhaps be beneficial to others. Consumer Response’s deputy assistant director, Darian Dorsey, told The Balance in an email that “consumers are at the foundation of the CFPB’s mandate.” “Consumer complaints have a significant impact on how we think strategically and prepare, and they enable us to better comprehend the problems consumers face. We use complaints to improve the law’s enforcement and the rules and regulations we create. Consumers should think about filing a complaint with the CFPB if they have an issue with a consumer financial product or service.

The CFPB may be able to uncover and prohibit unfair practices as a consequence of your complaint and those of others. It may also be able to influence government policy priorities and regulations and create more instruments to give consumers greater power.

What Occurs in CFPB Complaints Situations?

A complaint could be made about a range of financial goods and services, including:

  • Services for credit reporting, credit repair, and other individual consumer reports
  • Collection of debt
  • Either prepaid or credit cards
  • Savings or checking accounts
  • Mortgages
  • Loans or leases for vehicles
  • Virtual currency, money services, or money transfers
  • Payday, title, or personal loans are all examples of loans.
    education loans

Subgroups are included in several of these product groups. Debt collection, for instance, is further segmented according to the type of debt, such as vehicle, credit card, private student loan, or payday loan debt.

How to Look for Complaints Like Yours

The CFPB Consumer database, which is updated every day, can be used to search for complaints that have already been made against a company. You can conduct a search using the name of the business and then filter the results by state, ZIP code, or category of issue or product. You may, for instance, write in a bank’s name and then specify “Problem using a debit or ATM card.”

You might not always uncover relevant information, though. For instance, the business’s response to customers might be as brief as “closed with explanation” or “closed with monetary alleviation,” with no further comment from the public. Due to the CFPB’s lack of independent complaint verification, some customer complaints may have been the result of uncomplicated misunderstandings.

Only complaints to which businesses have had a chance to react are listed in the database. After the business answers and establishes a business relationship with the customer, or after 15 calendar days have passed since the business received the complaint, whichever comes first, complaints are listed. If a corporation declines to confirm a connection, the complaint won’t be recorded (however, the vast majority of complaints are responded to).

The database excludes complaints that were determined to be insufficient, those that are still pending with the consumer or the CFPB, or those that were forwarded to other regulatory bodies, like the Federal Trade Commission (for more information on this, see the section titled “When Shouldn’t You File a Complaint?”).

When Must a Complaint Be Filed?

Start by searching AskCFPB, the CFPB’s database of responses to frequently asked financial inquiries. This tool may assist you in deciding if you should file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) on an unfair business practice or issue, or whether another course of action is necessary.

For instance, if you Google “disputing a charge on your credit card account,” you’ll learn that you need to first submit your credit card company a written billing error notice. However, if you’ve already challenged the charge and believe the business isn’t abiding by the CFPB’s rules regarding unresolved disputes (for instance, by asking that you pay the disputed amount immediately), you might want to think about submitting a complaint to the CFPB.

You might think about submitting a CFPB complaint if you’ve previously attempted to resolve the problem or if you’re unsure of what to do next.

When Is It Not Appropriate to File a Complaint?

The Customer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) concentrates on financial businesses like lending banks rather than other consumer problems like subpar restaurant service or delayed flights. The Department of Education, for instance, oversees complaints concerning Pell Grants and federal student loans, so some financial issues should be sent to them rather than the CFPB. 3 Additionally, you shouldn’t complain to the CFPB if your issue involves:

  • Scams or dishonest mortgage practices
  • Housing discrimination in rentals
  • Tenant/landlord disagreements
  • Car leases
  • Auto repair facilities
  • False auto ads or dealers
  • Vehicle warranties
  • Auto safety
  • Telephone and cable complaints
  • American Postal Service problems
  • American government

Instead, you should lodge a grievance with other departments, organizations, or non-governmental organizations like the Better Business Bureau or your state’s attorney general or consumer protection office; the Federal Trade Commission; the Federal Aviation Commission; or the Federal Communications Commission.

Multiple agencies may be involved in some complaints. The CFPB, Federal Trade Commission, Department of Housing and Urban Development, and Department of Justice, for instance, might be involved in a complaint about mortgages. The CFPB will forward your complaint to another federal agency if they believe they can help you, but you might be able to save time by emailing it to the appropriate department. Use this tool to determine where to submit complaints in various circumstances.

The CFPB is unable to defend people in court or offer legal counsel. If you need additional assistance with your complaint, you can speak with a private lawyer or your neighborhood legal aid office for no-cost or low-cost legal options.

How to Complain to the CFPB

These actions should be taken after you’ve determined that the CFPB should handle your problem.

Amass Information

Due to the fact that you often cannot file a second complaint on the same issue, take your time and gather as much information as you can before submitting your complaint. Prior to beginning the process, gather the necessary data:

  • Dates, sums, case numbers, or client numbers are examples of details.
  • An explanation of what occurred, together with the names of everyone involved and the actions you did to try to fix the problem on your own.
  • Anything that can support your argument, such as emails, letters, or bill statements.

Select a Category

Follow the CFPB’s multiple-choice questions to determine the broad product or category for your complaint. You might need to select a sub-category, such as credit report or credit score difficulties, after choosing a category, such credit reporting.

Determine the Problem Type

Choose the type of issue you’re experiencing next, such as discovering inaccurate information on your credit report. Then, you might have to decide between other choices, like erroneous personal information or incorrect account statuses. You must also say whether you have already requested that the business solve the issue.

Specify the issue and provide documentation

You now have the chance to record the details of what transpired, including the dates, quantities, and actions you took. You should not include any personal information, such as your name or Social Security number, the CFPB cautions. Additionally, you can specify what you believe to be a “fair settlement” to your issue.

You have the choice to affix proof of your allegations, which is sent to the business with the complaint. Additionally, you can now decide if you want the CFPB to publish your account of your experience.

Before uploading a document to the CFPB website, you should erase or cover any personal information you wish to keep private.

Name the Business and Include Your Individual Information

The name of the business (or businesses) you are complaining about should be included. After that, you’ll list who was engaged in the complaint—either you alone, or you and another person—and provide contact details like your phone number and email address. Additionally, you can indicate your affiliations, such as if you are a member of the military or a small business owner.

Look over and submit

Before submitting the complaint, you will have one last chance to evaluate it in its entirety and make any required changes. Additionally, you’ll be asked to tick a box acknowledging that the data is accurate and that you are aware that the CFPB is not a financial advisor, attorney, or court.

What Follows the Filing of a Complaint?

Following your submission, the CFPB sends the financial service provider your complaint along with any supporting materials. The business may get in touch with you directly before responding to validate your identification or the transaction.

The business will assess your complaint and probably react with information on how they’ll handle your issue within 15 days. In other instances, the business may simply inform you that they are in the process of responding and will offer a definitive response within 60 days.

According to the CFPB, 98% of the consumer complaints it sends to businesses receive fast responses.

The CFPB will then enter the subject, date, and—with your consent and without any personally identifying information—the actual content of your complaint into its database. You have 60 days to comment on the company’s handling of the problem after reading its response.

No of how a particular complaint is resolved, the CFPB’s work with consumer complaints is informed by complaints and consumer feedback regarding the company’s response, which is shared with the company.

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