CFPB Consumer Complaint Bulletin Examines County-Level Demographic Data

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued a bulletin analyzing complaints submitted by consumers in counties nationwide. In 2019 and 2020, the CFPB received more complaints on a per-capita basis from consumers living in predominantly minority counties than from consumers in predominantly white, non-Hispanic counties. Consumers in counties with the highest percentage of minority population submitted complaints at over four times the rate compared to counties with the lowest percentage of minority population.

“Consumer complaints support and inform the CFPB’s work, and provide key insight into emerging trends in the financial marketplace,” said CFPB Acting Director Dave Uejio. “Today’s report shows that while all people across the nation face financial hardships, a significantly higher rate of complaints come from ethnically diverse communities. The data raise concerns that deserve our further study and, as such, we’ll keep a spotlight on patterns or any abuses we see.”

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The bulletin provides county-level visualization of trends the CFPB identifies in per-capita submission of complaints. The bulletin analyzes complaints at the county level and describes the CFPB’s ongoing work to better understand the communities that submit complaints and how their problems vary.

Among other key findings in this bulletin:

  • From 2019 to 2020, consumer complaints increased across all demographic groups. Complaints increased at a greater rate in predominantly minority counties compared to predominantly white, non-Hispanic counties.
  • Consumers living in predominantly minority counties submitted more complaints on a per capita basis in nearly every one of the 11 product categories about which the Bureau accepts complaints.
  • Credit or consumer reporting appears to cause significantly more issues for consumers in predominantly minority counties.

The CFPB will soon expand demographic collection to include household size and income. As part of this work, the CFPB will enhance its complaint form to give consumers the option to provide household size and household income when submitting a complaint. The CFPB will also begin exploring what additional information it may need to help better understand the experiences of diverse communities that submit complaints.

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Read the new bulletin here.

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