CFPB Report: Surprise Late Fees Top Most Frequent Consumer Credit Card Complaint
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October 29, 2015

According to a recent report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), consumers' most frequent credit card-related complaints were about the consequences of confusing payment processing complaints and difficulty disputing bill inaccuracies.

The snapshot is part of the agency's monthly consumer complaints report. As of the beginning of October, the agency has handled more than 726,000 complaints across all financial products.

Making up 16 percent of all complaints, problems making payments is the primary issue. Consumers who complained about billing issues frequently mention that they are charged surprise late fees because the company did not make it clear that payments would be not credited the day the payment was made.

Credit card companies also seem to be making it difficult for consumers to dispute problems with their bills. Consumers reported experiencing frustration and confusion when they attempted to dispute charges on their credit card bills. Many consumers complained that they did not have clear information on the amount of time they had to dispute charges they believed were wrong. Others complained that they were not made aware that their credit card company would not assist them in a dispute with a merchant.

Seven percent of consumer credit card complaints were about accounts being closed by credit card companies without advance warning. In the majority of these situations, the company stated that the account closure occurred because of suspected fraud on the card. Consumers said they were often not informed by the credit card company of the potential fraud on their cards before they were deactivated.

Citibank reigns as the most complained about company with 708 complaints between May and July of 2015. That's more than 100 more complaints than the second most complaint about company, Capital One. Citibank, Capital One, GE Capital Retail, and JPMorgan Chase accounted for nearly 60 percent of credit card complaints submitted to the Bureau.

Company-level complaint data in the report uses a three-month rolling average of complaints sent by the Bureau to companies for response. Company-level data lags other complaint data in this report by two months to account for the fact that companies are expected to close all but the most complicated complaints within 60 days. After the CFPB forwards a company the complaint, the company initially has 15 days to respond, confirming a commercial relationship with the consumer.

At the beginning of 2015, American consumers carried more than $700 billion in credit card debt and as of October 1, the Bureau has handled about 79,500 credit card-related complaints.