The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has been hard at work since it opened on July 21, 2011, but the verdict is still out on whether it’s helping enough consumers.
The fledgling bureau recently lent an ear to consumers with credit card complaints. And in its report, “Consumer Response: An interim report on CFPB’s credit card complaint data,” the bureau restates what we already knew: neither issuers nor consumers have a clue what’s going on with their cards.
“Many complaints show consumers struggling to understand the terms of credit cards and associated products like debt protection services,” said the report. “These complaints show a mismatch between consumer expectations and the way the product functions.”
In its first three months, Consumer Response received 5,074 credit card complaints, with 3,100 getting resolved and consumers disputing responses in 400 instances. We’ll leave it to you to decide whether that’s a lot of people—America’s population stands somewhere at 300 million.
The agency sent 84% of the complaints to the issuer to try and resolve them, while the rest were left incomplete either at consumers’ request or due to the issuer’s negligence.
The biggest issue of all was billing disputes (13.4%), as consumers and issuers don’t see eye-to-eye when it comes to fraudulent charges (the second highest complaint) and identity theft, which comprised 10.8% of consumers’ grievances.
As it works to expand its Consumer Response system, the CFPB will begin taking mortgage complaints on December 1 and aim to tackle “the majority of consumer financial product complaints and inquiries by the end of 2012.”
Let’s hope it makes a real impact.
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