The latest CFPB bulletin dissects demographics and ends …

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) on Wednesday released a bulletin analyzing complaints in counties across the country.

The data focuses on demographics and location as well as the source of consumer complaints. The CFPB noted in the report that its future complaint bulletins will include zip code and census information to analyze complaint demographics at a more granular level.

At present, the CFPB does not collect information on race and ethnicity during the complaint reporting process. Consumers provide their postal address and have the option of indicating their age and service member status.

For this analysis, the CFPB relies on information on race and ethnicity at the county level.

“In 2019 and 2020, the CFPB received more complaints per capita from consumers living in majority minority counties than consumers in majority white and non-Hispanic counties,” according to a press release in the report. “Consumers in counties with the highest percentage of minority population filed complaints at more than four times the rate compared to counties with the lowest percentage of minority population.”

ACA International has long disputed the accuracy of the CFPB complaint database. Given the CFPB’s broad definition of a complaint to include the expression of mere “dissatisfaction” from a consumer, coupled with the CFPB’s admission that it does not verify the substance of complaints for accuracy or even wrongdoing, county-level data suffers from the same inaccuracies as the complaints database.

Other findings of the report include:

  • In 2020, consumers living in majority minority counties submitted more complaints per capita in almost all product categories for which the CFPB accepts complaints.
  • From 2019 to 2020, complaints increased at a higher rate in majority minority counties compared to majority white and non-Hispanic counties.
  • Credit or consumer reports appear to cause far more problems for consumers in majority minority counties.

The CFPB says in the report that “debt collection also appears to cause more problems for consumers in majority minority counties than in predominantly white communities,” but then goes on to state that “the most common debt collection complaint. common practice concerns attempts to collect a debt that the consumer declares not to be due. “

It would appear that many of these “complaints” are probably more debt investigations than an allegation of wrongdoing.

It looks like the office will use this report as a starting point to broaden its demographics in relation to complaints about financial products and services.

“The bulletin analyzes county-level complaints and describes CFPB’s ongoing work to better understand the communities that submit complaints and how their issues vary,” CFPB reports.

“Consumer complaints support and inform the work of the CFPB, and provide key information on emerging trends in the financial market,” CFPB Acting Director Dave Uejio said in a press release on the report. “Today’s report shows that while everyone across the country is facing financial hardship, a significantly higher rate of complaints is coming from ethnically diverse communities. The data raises concerns that merit further study and as such we will be keeping an eye out for any trends or abuses we see. “

ACA will continue to advocate for greater transparency of the complaints database, as well as accurate reporting reflecting the difference between consumer inquiries and actual claims of harm.

The CFPB says it will expand its collection of demographic data to include household size and income and give consumers the option to provide this information on its complaint form. The CFPB will also begin to explore what additional information it may need to help better understand the experiences of the various communities that submit complaints.

ACA continues to advocate with CFPB to ensure that accurate industry data is entered into the database by providing context for complaints and rigorous verification processes.

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