Is your consumer complaint going nowhere? Boost solution with the CFPB

Consumers are getting results by filing their complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

Trouble ahead sign.
Image by

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is a powerful tool that is getting timely results on consumer complaints. It is very frustrating to believe you have been wronged as a consumer, file a complaint with the company, and get nowhere on a resolution. Whether it is the lack of response to your inquiry or the company saying they were right. The CFPB is getting results and public support.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a federal government agency. It started in July 2011 by Congress under the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform package. The CFPB receives thousands of consumer complaints a month, acts on them typically in less than a day, and almost all are resolved within 60 days.

The CFPB targets anyone who is charging interest. This includes traditional lenders like banks, mortgagors, furniture retailers, cellular network companies and auto loan providers. Plus newer credit sources from recreational equipment to dental work. So far, the CFPB has generated more than billions of dollars in relief for millions of consumers, according to recent reports.

Just as important, this agency has the enforcement authority to look over the shoulders of financial institutions and crackdown. The CFPB uses the data it collects to launch investigations, guide its oversight of banks, and fine for wrongdoing. To date, it has issued hundreds of millions of dollars in penalties to clamp down on financial exploitation of consumers. For example, Wells Fargo Bank was fined $1 billion for practices on its auto loans and mortgages.  Chase, Citibank and American Express had to pay $537 million in refunds and penalties for deceptive credit-card marketing. U. S. Bank was fined $48 million for charging 420,000 borrowers who never received identity theft protection services they paid for. It also busted nationwide mortgage modification scams requiring large up-front fees to fake lawyers for promised lower rates they never received.

The CFPB process for a consumer complaint

  1. Report a Problem: Consumers file a complaint with the CFPB through its website, by phone, mail, email or fax. Help is available in 180 languages.
  2. CFPB Reviews: The Consumer Response team at the CFPB screens complaints and forwards them to the companies in question. It typically acts within 24 hours.
  3. Lender Responds: Companies have 15 days to respond and up to 60 days for a final response. More than 90 percent of cases are settled during this time window.
  4. Consumer Reviews: Borrowers get another chance to weigh in if they feel they have not been treated properly.
  5. Investigators Comb the Files: CFPB investigators view the database for tips and to support ongoing probes. Supervisors who monitor lenders’ compliance also use it to inform their oversight.
  6. Regulators Tap the Database: The CFPB’s powerful rule writers use complaints to track trends in lending and formulate new recommendations.

How should you effectively write your complaint letter? Check out these tips from the Federal Trade Commission.

There are two ways to file your consumer complaint

  • Online
  • Phone: (855) 411-2372

If you have a consumer complaint with a company that charges interest, check out the CFPB to report the problem and hopefully receive a timely and favorable resolution.

Michigan State University Extension is a HUD-approved housing counseling agency has many MSHDA certified housing counselors at multiple county offices to assist you by phone or through technology. Find a staff person nearest you at the MI Money Health website.

Did you find this article useful?