The CFPB (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau) has now been open for approximately 5 months, as has their contact center for consumer complaints about credit card issuers.
It seems many consumers are still unaware of the service’s existence, with only a little over 5,000 complaints being registered before November 15. The agency have released a list of the most common complaints dealt with in the first few months of operation.
The complaints are broken down into 33 different categories including one called “other” for those which do not fit with the other 32 categories. The top three issues which bother consumers most about credit card issuers are:
- Billing disputes (13.4%)
- Credit Card Rates (11%)
- Identity Theft/ Fraud/ Embezzlement (10.8%)
The complaints regarding credit card rates may seem strange when you consider that we are aware of what rates we have to pay when we open our credit card accounts so it seems silly to complain about them. However, the CFPB has not released exactly what the complaints in this category relate to so it may well be that the complaints may be in relation to unfair penalty rates triggered by late payments.
These can often almost double the interest rate paid by the card holder. It is easy to see why this would be a complaint especially if the consumer has offered a reasonable explanation for a one time blip in the payment history.
There is every possibility that credit card interest rates could be a much more common complaint in the future as thos rates which are variable are expected to climb steeply as the economy gets back on its feet. That could mean that anyone carrying a balance may find themselves suffering.
One encouraging thing to come out of the report was that only 1.7% of complaints, just 83 in total) were relating to balance transfer cards or fees. This is good news because these tools are seen as important in helping consumers to head off financial problems before they become serious.
The weak point in the report from the CFPB is that it does not go into detail, offering only a snapshot of the complaints being registered by consumers. Even though the report is not perfect, it is most definitely a step in the right direction as it is sure to help track trends in the issues which bother consumers the most in regard to their credit cards.