The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), once relegated to the back page of the finance industry, has become mainstream news due to recent events.
After recently-resigned Director Richard Cordray's deputy Leandra English assumed the position, President Trump appointed a CFPB director of his own, Mick Mulvaney.
Following a brief power struggle, Mulvaney won the competition and is now the second ever Director of the CFPB. With Mulvaney in power, many speculate that the CFPB's most impactful tool, the publicly available complaint database, will either be made private or eliminated entirely.
The Consumer Complaint Database collects hundreds of thousands of grievances filed by consumers throughout the U.S. regarding financial products and services. The company that is at the center of each complaint is given 15 days to respond to the inquiry, at which point the complaint is then uploaded to the publicly accessible database.
The CFPB's complaint database simultaneously holds major financial institutions accountable and allows for consumers to do their due diligence before making major personal finance decisions.
For quite possibly the last time ever (because of rumors of President Trumps shutting it down), LendEDU has downloaded and analyzed every consumer complaint that was filed with the CFPB in 2017.
Continue reading to discover which financial company dominated the Consumer Complaint Database in 2017, which states were responsible for the most complaints, and which complaints were the most common in each state.
Interactive Map & Table of 2017 CFPB Complaints Broken Down by State, Product, & Most Complained About Company
Besides North Dakota, Each State Filed the Most CFPB Complaints Against Equifax in 2017
Map & Table of Complaints Broken Down By State, Complaint Percentage, & Complaints Per Million Residents
Washington D.C. Had the Highest Number of Complaints Per 1 Million Residents
Observations & Analysis
Equifax Inc., one of the three main credit bureaus in the U.S., was the most complained about financial institution in 2017 in 49 states and Washington D.C. according to the CFPB's complaint database. The only state where Equifax was not the most complained about company was North Dakota; that recognition belonged to Experian, another one of the main credit bureaus.
It should not come as much of a surprise that Equifax was the most complained about financial institution in 2017. On September 7th, Equifax issued a press release that revealed its was a victim of a major cybersecurity hack that may have impacted at least 143 million consumers. In one LendEDU poll, 54 percent of Americans believed Equifax should have lost its ability to act as a credit bureau following the major hack.
It is quite to safe to say that there are not many companies more excited than Equifax about the calendar turning to 2018.
In total, there were 235,094 CFPB complaints filed by countless American consumers during 2017; all complaints that were not filed with a specific state were excluded from analysis. The most common complaints related to "Credit Reporting and Repair" (87,908), "Debt Collection" (46,648), "Mortgage" (29,445), "Credit Card or Prepaid Card" (22,123), and "Bank, Checking, or Savings Account" (18,634).
Overall, there were 727 CFPB complaints filed in 2017 per every one million residents in the U.S. Interestingly, Washington D.C., despite only making up 0.52 percent of total complaints, had the highest frequency of complaints per one million of its residents: 1,781. Because both the CFPB is headquartered in Washington D.C. and residents there are typically more politically active, it makes sense that it is the location filing complaints at the highest rate.
Georgia, the state where Equifax is headquartered, had the second highest amount of complaints relative to its population of 10,277,491. Georgia's complaint rate per one million residents was 1,417, and the state also was responsible for 6.20 percent of all complaints submitted in 2017.
In terms of the states that had the highest percentage of complaints in all the U.S., California represented 13.26 percent of all complaints, followed by Texas at 9.38 percent, Florida at 9.32 percent, and New York at 6.36 percent. This makes sense, as those four states also are in the top four when it comes to population.
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 second heat map and table.
Before any sort of processing or calculations, the original dataset included 240,894 consumer complaints for the year of 2017. However, in order to complete the map, the data needed to be trimmed down. This was done by removing all complaints that either originated from a U.S. territory or were missing a state label.
The post-filtered dataset consisted of 235,094 consumer complaints. Two different heat maps with accompanying tables were created with the filtered dataset.
The first heat map included consumer complaint data broken out by total complaints for each state. Within each state, the complaints were further broken down by product.* Finally, the company with the most consumer complaints was included in each state listing. The ranking gradient on the map was based on overall complaints within a state.
The second heat map includes total consumer complaints broken down by state, but it also incorporated state population data. The percentages of complaints and population were simple percentage calculations. Complaints per million consumers were calculated by dividing complaints by population and multiplying the fraction by a million. The ranking gradient on the map was based on complaints per million consumers within a state.
* For reference, many of the original product complaint categories overlap, so several categories were consolidated for convenience. The following categories were consolidated: bank account or service and checking or savings account into Bank Deposit or Checking/Savings Account; credit card, prepaid card, and credit card or prepaid card categories into Credit Card/Prepaid Card; credit reporting and credit repair service categories into Credit Reporting/Repair Services; virtual currency and money transfer related categories into Money Transfer/Virtual Currency; and payday loan, consumer loan, and personal loan categories into Personal Loan/Payday Loan.