Consumers struggle as CFPB complaints break records, report finds

"The surge in complaints is a signal of the strain the pandemic put on consumers, and of the minefield of tricks and traps they face in the financial marketplace."

A review of consumer complaints filed with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) last year tells the story of Americans navigating a fraught financial marketplace amid a pandemic.

Complaints about problems with financial companies, including banks, credit bureaus and debt collectors, rose by 50 percent in 2020, setting new records each month of the year, according to a report from U.S. PIRG Education Fund.

Of particular concern were complaints about credit reporting, which doubled.

"The surge in complaints is a signal of the strain the pandemic put on consumers, and of the minefield of tricks and traps they face in the financial marketplace," said Gideon Weissman, Frontier Group analyst and report co-author.

The report advises the CFPB to expand financial safeguards amid the COVID-19 crisis, reverse steps taken to weaken rules that protect consumers from predatory payday lending, and roll back rules that allow debt collectors to harrass debtors.

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Photo: U.S. PIRG Consumer Program Associate Lucy Baker discussed a sharp increase in auto loan complaints during an October 2020 interview with Scripps National News. Credit: Scripps Media via The Denver Channel