Politics & MoneyMortgage

CFPB awash in mortgage complaints

Nearly 5,000 a month in 2013 alone

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is in the complaint business, and business is good.

The CFPB received 163,700 consumer complaints in 2013, nearly double the total 90,000 they received in 2012.

The CFPB’s Consumer Response Annual Report shows that the bulk of the complaints – a plurality of 37% – were related to mortgages. Some 37% of overall complaints – about 59,900 – were most concerned with loan modifications, collections, or foreclosures.

“Consumer complaints have become central to the work of this agency. They enable us to listen to, and amplify, the concerns of any American who wants to be heard,” said CFPB director Richard Cordray. “They are also our compass. They make a difference by informing our work and helping us identify and prioritize problems for potential action.”

The full report can be read or downloaded here.

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act created the CFPB and established the handling of consumer complaints as an integral part of the CFPB’s work.

The CFPB fields complaints about credit cards, mortgages, bank accounts and services, private student loans, vehicle and other consumer loans, money transfers, payday loans, debt collection and credit reporting.

“The most common type of mortgage complaint involves problems consumers face when they are unable to make payments, such as issues relating to loan modifications, collections, or foreclosures,” the report says. “Consumers with successfully completed loan modifications have complained that some servicers do not amend derogatory credit reporting accrued by consumers during trial periods – even when documents provided to the consumers by servicers indicated that they would do so.

“Consumers seeking short sales have reported that second-lien holders refuse to accept or subordinate in a short sale, whereas some consumers who do obtain a short sale have concerns with the loan account being incorrectly reported as a foreclosure,” it states. “Consumers facing foreclosure have expressed concern and confusion about fees assessed in connection with the foreclosure process.”

Other common types of mortgage complaints address issues related to making payments, including loan servicing, payments, or escrow accounts.

The CFPB pushes for assistance for consumers with such avenues as foreclosure alternatives, corrections to credit reports, protection from debt collectors, and customer service. 

Of all mortgage complaints, 77% are closed with a simple explanation or clarification to the consumer, without relief of any sort.

About 2% of mortgage complaints are closed with monetary relief, while 7% are closed with non-monetary relief.

The report covers all complaints received by the CFPB from Jan. 1, 2013 through Dec. 31, 2013. This is an 80% increase over the previous year’s 91,000 complaints. To date, including this year, the CFPB has received more than 310,000 complaints.

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