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10 Big Banks That Log More Complaints Than An Umpire
The, passed by Congress three years ago, was designed to make industry practices more consumer-friendly and less “predatory.” But despite the progress that has been made, consumer and issuers are still a long way from living in perfect harmony.
The proof comes in the form of new consumer complaint data from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which is a federal agency established under the bank-regulating Dodd-Frank Act of 2010. The bureau is meant to be a one-stop shop for consumer complaints about banks. Prior to its formation, a consumer wanting to file an official complaint about a bank with the government had to determine which one of an alphabet soup of agencies (FRB, FDIC, OCC, etc.) regulated their particular bank.
Based on the 10 months of collected data, obtained from the agency through a Freedom of Information Act request, consumers filed 15,912 nonduplicated complaints with the bureau against a number of credit card issuers between July 21, 2011 and May 14, 2012.
That averages out to about 50 complaints per day.
The five largest credit card issuers received the lion’s share of complaints (not surprisingly, as they have the largest consumer bases to begin with). However, the bureau’s data revealed that 2,377 of the nearly 16,000 complaints — roughly 15% — have not been matched with the offending credit card issuer yet. That means each bank’s complaint numbers may grow, and the overall rankings may change in the future as the information is continuously updated by the bureau.
According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, here are the 10 credit card issuers that have had the most complaints filed against them by consumers:
Note: A few of the banks below are referred to by multiple names in the CFPB database. For example, Citi is referred to as Citi Bank Products and Citi Credit Cards & Student Loans. In those instances, we combined all the complaint data under one name — i.e., Citi.
10. US Bank
Number of Credit Card Complaints: 286
Most Frequent Cause of Complaints: Billing disputes (39), identity theft/fraud-related incidents (36) and APR or interest rate issues (30).
U.S. Bank starts off the list, and its top three complaints look similar to many of the other banks on the list — with billing disputes ranking as the most common consumer gripe. However, its total number of complaints equals just more than 10% of the bank at this list’s No. 1.
When asked about the CFPB’s list, U.S. Bank could not be reached to provide a comment.
Number of Credit Card Complaints: 497
Most Frequent Cause of Complaints: APR or interest rate issues (82), billing disputes (71) and issues with closing/canceling accounts (33).
Unlike with U.S. Bank customers, APRs and interest rates caused the most complaints from Barclays customers. Billing disputes came in second, though both issues failed to draw 100 complaints during the time period.
Kevin Sullivan, a representative from Barclaycard US, declined to comment on our report.
8. Wells Fargo
Number of Credit Card Complaints: 542
Most Frequent Cause of Complaints: Billing disputes (70), late fees (56) and identity theft/fraud-related incidents (54).
Wells Fargo ranks eighth in most complaints and is the eighth-largest credit card issuer, according to a Nilson Report released in 2011. Billing disputes were the most common complaints, though late fees and ID theft and fraud followed closely.
Only one other bank — GE Capital — joined Wells Fargo in having late fees as one of its three most common complaints.
Wells Fargo representative Natalie Brown responded to us saying, “We believe the vast majority of our customers are satisfied with our service.” Brown added that when it comes to customer feedback, “we value it, take it seriously and [will] work with customers to find solutions that meet their needs and individual circumstances.”