Report finds rise in consumer finance complaints during pandemic


The number of financial complaints filed by consumers in the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has risen dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to an analysis of the CFPB database by LendEDU, an online marketplace for financial products.

LendEDU found a 44% increase in the number of consumer finance complaints filed from March 13 to July 17 of this year, compared to the same period last year. Their analysis also found a 38% increase in complaints from March 13 to July 17 compared to the previous 127-day period.

The report found the largest percent-increases in complaints were filed under the “money transfer, virtual currency, or money service” and “credit reporting, credit repair services, or other personal consumer reports” categories.

LendEDU suggested that the increase in complaints was partially due to erroneous credit reporting while pandemic-related flexibility programs were in place, and money transfer phishing scams, specifically fake Venmo accounts and text messages requesting money. Problems with pandemic-related deferment programs for credit card payments, which numerous credit card companies offered to consumers who proactively notified them, also led to a rise in credit report issues.

“The biggest consumer finance problems since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic have pertained to credit report issues,” the report said. “Specifically, a lack of chemistry between consumers, financial institutions and the credit bureaus to properly manage the added deferments and adjusted payment plans.”

Meanwhile, complaints regarding both student loans and mortgage payments dropped, by 41% and 4% respectively. The report suggested that the steep drop in student loan complaints may be due to all federal student loans being placed in forbearance until September 30.

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