A State-By-State Review of CFPB “Credit Reporting” Complaints In 2017
If you have ever browsed the LendEDU blog, you know we love digging into the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's (CFPB) Consumer Complaint Database in order to tell a story and reveal eye-opening trends.
The CFPB's complaint database is one of the most powerful tools that we have at our disposal. Hundreds of thousands of consumer-submitted complaints against once impenetrable financial institutions can hold these companies accountable and keep the American public aware.
This time around, our team of analysts looked solely at 2017 complaints related to "credit reporting and repair services." In our most recent study featuring data from the CFPB, complaints regarding "credit reporting and repair services" were far and away the most numerous; in 2017, there were 87,908 complaints pertaining to "credit reporting and repair services," while the next closest category was "debt collection" with 46,648 complaints.
That same study found that Equifax, one of the three major credit reporting bureaus, was the most complained about financial institution in 2017 in all but one state.
For these reasons, we decided to take a deeper dive into CFPB complaints related to credit issues. How many "credit reporting and repair services" complaints were there in each state in 2017? Which states had the highest frequency of these complaints relative to their respective population? In each state, what proportion of the complaints were held by each of the three major credit bureaus?
To find the answer to these questions and much more, check out the interactive heat map and table below.
Interactive Heat Map & Table Featuring a State-By-State Breakdown of "Credit Reporting & Repair Services" Complaints in 2017
"Credit Reporting & Repair Services" Complaint Breakdown By Issue Type
What exactly are consumers complaining about when it comes to "credit reporting & repair services" grievances? Below, is the CFPB breakdown of individual complaints according to five major issue categories.
Sub-Issue Breakdown of "Incorrect Information on Credit Report" Complaints
The most populated complaint from above was in regards to Incorrect Information on Credit Report. The table below provides a breakdown of Incorrect Information on Credit Report complaints according to their respective sub-issue.
Observations & Analysis
"Credit Reporting & Repair Services" Led the CFPB Complaint Charge In 2017
In terms of the different financial products that consumers are able to lodge CFPB complaints with, "credit reporting and repair services" blew the competition out of the water in 2017.
What exactly does this type of product complaint encompass? According to the CFPB's website, this could be anything from incorrect information on a consumer's credit report, improper use of a consumer's credit report, a consumer being unable to get his or her credit score, problems with fraud alerts or security freezes, problems with customer service, getting charged excessive fees, and many more.
So by just how much did "credit reporting and repair services" complaints distance themselves from the rest of the field? In 2017, there were 87,908 of these complaints filed with the CFPB's complaint database. The next few closest product complaints were "debt collection" complaints (46,648), "mortgage" complaints (29,445), "credit card or prepaid card" complaints (22,123), and "bank, checking, or savings account" complaints (18,634).
It does not take long to surmise a reason why "credit reporting and repair services" complaints were so numerous; the Equifax cybersecurity breach of 2017 certainly led to thousands of consumer grievances, as they were also the most complained about financial institution in 2017. Which brings us to our next section...
More Bad News For Equifax
Simply put, 2017 was a rough year for Equifax, one of the three major credit bureaus in the U.S. In what has been called the worst data breach in U.S. history, cyber-hackers stole half the U.S. population's Social Security numbers. Following the news, the company was marred by bad press, unfavorable public opinion, and too many CFPB complaints to count.
In a previous LendEDU study that evaluated 2017 CFPB complaint data, Equifax was the most complained about company in the country; in all but North Dakota, the credit reporting agency led the way in consumer-filed grievances.
This time around, when LendEDU only analyzed "credit reporting and repair services" complaints, Equifax's placement at the forefront of the CFPB complaint database remained, not surprisingly, unchanged. In all but North Dakota, Equifax beat out Experian and TransUnion when it came to the proportion of 2017 "credit reporting and repair services" complaints.
In fact, in 11 states (Washington, Oregon, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Vermont, Idaho, Iowa, Montana, and Alaska), Equifax held a larger proportion of credit-related complaints than Experian and TransUnion combined!
What Is Going On With Experian In North Dakota?
As mentioned above, North Dakota was the outlier when it came to CFPB complaints lodged within the "credit reporting and repair services" section. In North Dakota, Experian actually held the highest proportion of credit-related CFPB complaints in 2017, the only instance where Equifax did not lead.
This data actually reaffirms an against-the-grain statistic from our recent CFPB study that took into account all CFPB complaints lodged in 2017. That report found that North Dakota was the only state where Equifax was not the financial institution that received the most CFPB complaints in 2017; that recognition went to Experian.
Some quick research reveals little to absolutely nothing when it comes to Experian controversies in the state of North Dakota during 2017. Nonetheless, the outlier statistic is definitely intriguing. Perhaps, residents of North Dakota did not submit CFPB complaints as frequently as the rest of the country. Or, maybe Experian is the credit reporting agency that is most often used in North Dakota. It is tough to point to an exact reason.
The majority of this data was pulled directly from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Consumer Complaint Database. Only complaints received from January 1, 2017 through December 31, 2017 were analyzed. A secondary data source, Onboard Informatics, provided population statistics which were used in calculations for the heat map and table.
Before any calculations could be made, the data needed to be trimmed down. Any CFPB complaint that either originated from a U.S. territory or was submitted without a state label was eliminated from further analysis.
The post-filtered dataset consisted of 87,908 CFPB complaints pertaining to "credit reporting and repair services" that were submitted in 2017. Only one heat map and a single accompanying table were necessary for this particular study and were crafted using those 87,908 CFPB complaints pertaining to "credit reporting and repair services."
The heat map included in this report includes the number of relevant CFPB complaints filed in that particular state, the number and proportion of those complaints that were lodged against Experian, the number and proportion of those complaints that were lodged against Equifax, and the number and proportion of those complaints that were lodged against TransUnion. The final component of the heat map was the statistic labeled "Complaints Per Million Consumers." This took into account the population of the given state and the number of relevant 2017 CFPB complaints; those two numbers were divided by each other and then multiplied by a million to get the desired statistic. That statistic was used to both color the heat map and sort the table from highest to lowest complaint frequency.
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