The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has concluded its most recent review of complaints filed with the agency, and put a focus on money transfer businesses.
The Bureau currently accepts complaints on many consumer financial products, including credit cards, mortgages, bank accounts and services, private student loans, vehicle and other consumer loans, credit reporting, money transfers, debt collection, and payday loans.
“Through rules on international money transfers and continued supervision of this important financial service, the Bureau is working to make sure that consumers can easily send money without having to worry about delays or hidden fees,” CFPB Director Richard Cordray said in a statement.
In 2013, the CFPB finalized rules on international money transfers that provided new protections such as disclosures on third party fees and exchange rates, error resolution, and cancellation rights for consumers sending money. Some of the findings in the latest report include:
Of all complaints about money transfers, 42 percent involved fraud. A common fraud tactic mentioned by consumers involves the perpetrator asking for a money transfer in order to provide relief to a family member in need. While this is the most common type of money transfer complaint, it is not targeted at the actual money transfer service being provided.
Consumers also complained about problems arising when they try to complete a money transfer. Key problems were that the amount of money transmitted was smaller than expected, and that the money sent was “significantly and unexpectedly delayed.”
Other common complaints centered on problems consumers faced when they contacted the company for help: long hold times when attempting to speak to a representative; and an inability to speak to anyone from the company. Refunds on money transfers were often subject to long delays.
The most-complained-about companies, according to the CFPB, were MoneyGram, Western Union, PayPal, and JPMorgan Chase. Between July 2015 and September 2015, the four companies accounted for 80 percent of all money transfer complaints. The report does caution, however, that the volume of complaints should be considered in the context of company size and activity in the relevant market.
As of Dec. 1, 2015, the CFPB handled 770,100 complaints nationally. For November 2015, the two most-complained-about financial products were debt collection and mortgages, representing nearly half—49 percent—of complaints submitted.
In a year-to-year comparison examining the time periods of September to November, complaints about prepaid products rose 215 percent. Between Sep. 1 and Nov. 31, the CFPB received 442 complaints about prepaid products. Payday loan complaints showed the greatest decrease (14 percent) during the same time period.
The District of Columbia (674 complaints per 100,000 people) and Delaware (433 complaints per 100,000 people) have the distinction of the highest complaint volume per capita.