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SEATTLE – Washington consumers file more complaints about Capital One than any other credit card company, according to a report released today by the WashPIRG Foundation. The report, which looked at data from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) public Consumer Complaints Database, also found that nearly 40 percent of consumers had their complaints closed with monetary or non-monetary relief; 60 percent of cases were resolved with explanation.
“The CFPB is empowering consumers to demand accountability from their credit card companies,” said Chris Esh, Program Associate for WashPIRG Foundation. “Finally, consumers ripped off by junky credit card add-ons or unfair billing disputes have somewhere to turn.”
The report, "Credit Cards, Consumer Complaints: The CFPB's Consumer Complaint Database Gets Real Results for Credit Card Holders”, is the fourth in a series of reports by WashPIRG Foundation that analyze the complaints in the CFPB’s consumer complaints database. The CFPB has been accepting complaints about credit cards since July 2011, and has expanded since then to accept complaints about a variety of financial products and services. Previous reports in the series have analyzed complaints about bank accounts, private student loans, and credit reporting.
Some key findings:
- The most complained-about credit card company in Washington is Capital One—having 7.3 complaints registered per 100,000 residents. Nationally, GE Capital Retail generated the most complaints when adjusted for purchase volume, followed by Capital One. Capital One also generated the most complaints overall nationally.
- Nearly 40 percent of credit card complaints to the CFPB result in tangible relief to the consumer. Over 7,300 consumers have received monetary relief through the CFPB, and over 2,300 additional consumers have received non-monetary relief such as adjusting interest rates or correcting information with a credit reporting agency. In total, the CFPB has helped nearly 10,000 consumers get relief from credit card problems.
- The median amount of monetary relief for credit card complaints was $128.
- Washington ranks 22nd nationally in complaints per 100,000 residents.
- Consumers were most likely to complain about billing disputes (16 percent of complaints), followed by difficulties with APR or interest rates (10 percent) and trouble with identity theft, fraud, and embezzlement (7 percent).
- Consumers disputed about 20 percent of the responses from credit card companies.
In addition to the complaint database, the CFPB has numerous tools for making credit cards work better for consumers. It enforces provisions of the 2009 Credit CARD Act that helps consumers avoid penalty fees and unfair interest rate increases. And after a significant number of complaints about credit card add-ons, the CFPB’s first enforcement actions in 2012 addressed these issues head-on. CFPB actions against Discover, Capital One, American Express, Chase, and GE Capital Retail credit cards have totaled over $800 million in refunds to consumers.
The report also highlighted several recommendations to the CFPB in order to improve the usefulness and accessibility of the database, such as developing a mobile app version for smartphone users. Most importantly, the CFPB should analyze the data regularly and continue to hold companies responsible for deceptive practices.
“The CFPB has taken great strides in holding credit card companies accountable,” said Esh. “Thanks to its work with consumer complaints and enforcement actions, the CFPB is getting results for credit card holders.”
This is the fourth in a series of five reports by the Washington State Public Interest Research Group Foundation (WashPIRG) that analyze the complaints in the CFPB’s public Consumer Complaints Database. The next report will analyze complaints relating to debt collection.
Visit the CFPB’s public Consumer Complaints Database: www.consumerfinance.gov/complaintdatabase/
WashPIRG Foundation works to protect consumers and promote good government. We investigate problems, craft solutions, educate the public, and offer meaningful opportunities for civic participation. www.washpirgfoundation.org
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