Consumer reporting complaints received by the CFPB increased significantly in 2021 over the prior year, with the bureau receiving more than 500,000 credit or consumer reporting complaints between January and September 2021 compared to the 319,000 it received in all of 2020, according to a report released today.
The vast majority of those complaints were related to the three major nationwide credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. It also noted the volume of complaints about companies like banks that furnish information to consumer reporting agencies are similar to or exceed complaints about credit cards and bank accounts. The report found that consumers submitted more claims that information in their consumer reports was inaccurate than any other problem.
In an analysis of these complaints, the CFPB noted that several factors likely contributed to the increase, many of which were related to the pandemic, including CARES Act relief, changes in regulatory guidance, increased shopping for mortgage credit and refinance credit due to low interest rates, and increased consumer awareness of the salience of credit reports. The bureau also flagged several issues that consumers face when attempting to dispute information on their credit reports, noting that they are often unsuccessful in disputing information in a timely manner; frequently expend time and money attempting to correct reports; and often find themselves caught between furnishers and the major credit bureaus when attempting to resolve disputes.
The CFPB found that Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion reported offering relief in less than 2% of complaints received in 2021, down from 25% of complaints in 2019. It also reported that consumer reporting agencies do not take available steps to distinguish between complaints submitted by third parties (such as credit repair organizations) authorized by the consumer and those not authorized.