Financial Services Complaints Jump 44% Amid Pandemic

By Alex Padalka July 31, 2020

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau saw a big spike in complaints about financial services almost across the board during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a recent report.

“Financial institutions have shown a willingness to be flexible with customers, but it appears this unprecedented situation has made a mess of the relationship between consumers, financial institutions, and credit bureaus … and consumers are suffering the most as a result,” says LendEDU, an online marketplace for a variety of financial products.

From March 13, when the coronavirus pandemic was declared a national emergency, to July 17, CFPB saw 140,042 complaints, according to an analysis of CFPB’s consumer complaint database by LendEDU. That's a 44% increase in year-over-year terms, LendEDU says. 

The number of complaints during that period was also 38% higher than the previous 127-day period ending March 12, according to the report.

“While both the [year-over-year] and 127-day differences jump out at you right away, the percent increases in the number of complaints really exemplify just how many consumers are dealing with financial mishaps during the coronavirus pandemic,” LendEDU says.

Complaints related to credit reporting, credit repair services, or other personal consumer reports saw the biggest jump from March 13 to July 17, with an 84% increase year over year, according to the report. 

LendEDU found in an earlier survey that 54% of Americans were concerned about making their credit card payments in light of the pandemic, while 57% were worried about making mortgage payments. 

Within the credit reporting category, the biggest increase — 168% year over year — was in complaints related to a credit reporting firm’s investigation into existing issues, under the sub-category “general-purpose credit card or charge card,” LendEDU found. And there was a 109% year-over-year increase in complaints claiming incorrect information on a credit report, according to the report. 

Interestingly, however, complaints to the CFPB related to mortgages inched down 4% during this period, LendEDU found.  

Meanwhile, complaints about money transfers, virtual currency, or money services saw a 77% rise, according to the report. In particular, complaints about problems adding money, under the sub-category of mobile or digital wallet, saw a 3067% year-over-year jump, LendEDU found. 

Credit card or prepaid card-related complaints, meanwhile, soared 29%, and complaints related to checking or savings accounts, vehicle loans or leases and payday loans, title loans or personal loans all saw increases below 8%, according to the report.

At the same time, student loan-related complaints plunged 41%, LendEDU found. That may be due, however, to all federal student loans being placed in pandemic forbearance by the Department of Education until the end of September, according to the report.  

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