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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, January 14th, 2014
Eric S Mosher, PIRGIM Education Fund
Ann Arbor - Michigan consumers file more complaints about Capital One than any other credit card company, according to a report released today by PIRGIM Education Fund. The report, which looked at data from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) public Consumer Complaints Database, also found that Michigan consumers are 37th most likely to file credit card complaints.
“The CFPB is empowering consumers to demand accountability from their credit card companies,” said Eric S Mosher, Program Associate for PIRGIM Education Fund. “Finally, consumers ripped off by junky credit card add-ons or unfair billing disputes have somewhere to turn.”
The report, "Credit Cards, Consumer Complaints: The CFPB's Consumer Complaint Database Gets Real Results for Credit Card Holders," is the fourth in a series of reports by PIRGIM Education Fund that analyze the complaints in the CFPB’s consumer complaints database. The CFPB has been accepting complaints about credit cards since July 2011, and has expanded since then to accept complaints about a variety of financial products and services. Previous reports in the series have analyzed complaints about bank accounts, private student loans, and credit reporting.
Some key findings:
• The most complained-about credit card company in Michigan is Capitol One. Nationally, GE Capital Retail generated the most complaints when adjusted for purchase volume, followed by Capital One. Capital One also generated the most complaints overall.
• Nearly 40% of credit card complaints to the CFPB result in tangible relief to the consumer. Over 7,300 consumers have received monetary relief through the CFPB, and over 2,300 additional consumers have received non-monetary relief such as adjusting interest rates or correcting information with a credit reporting agency. In total, the CFPB has helped nearly 10,000 consumers get relief from credit card problems.
• The median amount of monetary relief for credit card complaints was $128.
• Michigan ranks 37th nationally in complaints per 100,000 residents.
• Consumers were most likely to complain about billing disputes (16 percent of complaints), followed by difficulties with APR or interest rates (10 percent) and trouble with identity theft, fraud, and embezzlement (7 percent).
• Consumers disputed about 20 percent of the responses from credit card companies.
In addition to the complaint database, the CFPB has numerous tools for making credit cards work better for consumers. It enforces provisions of the 2009 Credit CARD Act that helps consumers avoid penalty fees and unfair interest rate increases. And after a significant number of complaints about credit card add-ons, the CFPB’s first enforcement actions in 2012 addressed these issues head-on. CFPB actions against Discover, Capital One, American Express, Chase, and GE Capital Retail credit cards have totaled over $800 million in refunds to consumers.
“Combining the 2009 credit card reform law with the 2010 creation of the CFPB has produced a new level of consumer protection against unfair credit card practices,” said U.S. Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI). “U.S. PIRG’s analysis of the CFPB’s credit card complaint database not only details the number and nature of ongoing credit card problems, but also discloses how the CFPB has helped nearly 10,000 consumers in two years get some degree of relief. It also establishes that credit card abuses continue. When the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, which I chair, began investigating credit card abuses back in 2006, consumers had few places to turn for assistance. Our subcommittee hearings helped spur the credit card reform law, and the report shows how government can now lend a helping hand to families fighting unfair treatment by banks with large credit card operations.”
The report also highlighted several recommendations to the CFPB in order to improve the usefulness and accessibility of the database, such as developing a mobile app version for smartphone users. Most importantly, the CFPB should analyze the data regularly and continue to hold companies responsible for deceptive practices.
“The CFPB has taken great strides in holding credit card companies accountable,” said Mosher. “Thanks to its work with consumer complaints and enforcement actions, the CFPB is getting results for credit card holders.”
This is the fourth in a series of five reports by the PIRGIM Education Fund that analyze the complaints in the CFPB’s public Consumer Complaints Database. The next report will analyze complaints relating to debt collection.
Visit the CFPB’s public Consumer Complaints Database: www.consumerfinance.gov/complaintdatabase/
PIRGIM Education Fund works to protect consumers and promote good government. We investigate problems, craft solutions, educate the public, and offer meaningful opportunities for civic participation. www.pirgimedfund.org
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