The coronavirus pandemic has seen a sharp rise in consumer complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). According to a new press release from the U.S. PIRG Education Fund, each month since the COVID-19 pandemic began has brought a record number of consumer complaints. All told, CFPB complaints are up 50% from the same time last year.
CFPB Letting Down Consumers?
U.S. PIRG Education Fund is an independent, non-partisan research and education group. It states the CFPB are letting consumers down by failing to go after predatory payday lenders.
“The CFPB was off to a good start after the last economic crisis,” says Mike Litt, U.S. PIRG Education Fund’s consumer campaign director. “But it’s looked the other way during the current one.”
“Ten years ago, on July 21, after the Wall Street-induced financial crisis, the CFPB was created to protect consumers,” said Ed Mierzwinski, senior director of federal consumer program for U.S. PIRG Education Fund. “Now, in a pandemic-fueled financial crisis, strapped consumers need the CFPB to take powerful action to rein in unscrupulous financial practices.”
Consumer Complaints Reaching Record Levels
The U.S. PIRG Education Fund states that one in five complaints to the CFPB during the pandemic concerns mortgages, student loans, and auto loans.
Mortgages and loans are the only areas of finance experiencing a rise in consumer complaints. Many Americans are also contacting the agency with concerns about credit card issuers – with Citibank leading the way in total complaints. A recent CPFB report shows consumers are four times more likely to have a complaint about a Citi credit card than cards or services from any other credit card lender.
Syed Ejaz, a policy analyst at Consumer Reports, calls Citi’s behavior troubling, stating, “Citibank’s practices are particularly egregious during a time of severe hardship when so many families have been pushed beyond the brink financially.”
Citi has disputed the findings, stating most complaints refer to merchant disputes.
About U.S. PIRG Education Fund
U.S. PIRG Education Fund is an independent, non-partisan group that works for consumers and the public interest. Through research, public education and outreach, the group serves as a counterweight to the influence of powerful special interests that threaten the health, safety, or well-being of Americans.