by Matt Bewig
April 2, 2013
Despite having its director filibustered and its very existence threatened by Senate Republicans, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) continues to disseminate useful information for consumers while pointing out the failings of the banking and finance industry. Last week, for example, the agency released a new public database of consumer complaints against mortgage servicing companies that bill and collect payments and handle distressed borrowers and foreclosures.
According to the data, banking giant Bank of America (2012 revenue: $83.33 billion) had by far the worst customer service record, with 15,136 complaints since December 2011, about 300 of them still unresolved. BoA’s record is far out of proportion to the share of mortgage servicing it handles: while the bank services only about 15% of U.S. home loans, it earned 30% of the 50,457 complaints logged.
Two-thirds of the complaints were against BoA’s handling of loan modifications, debt collection and foreclosures, and 20% arose from poor customer service generally.
“By sharing these complaints with the public, we are creating greater transparency in consumer financial products and services,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “The database is good for consumers, and it is also good for honest businesses.” Despite its opposition to both the bureau and Cordray, BoA issued a statement that it supports the goal of “providing greater transparency in banking service.”
Bank of America was not alone in being the target of mortgage-related complaints. Wells Fargo (2012 revenue: $86 billion), which is the No. 1 mortgage service company in the U.S. and handles 21.5% of U.S. home loans, accounted for less than 16% of the complaints.
JPMorgan Chase (2012 revenue: $97 billion), with a 12.7% share of the servicing business, got 10% of the complaints. Citibank (2012 revenue: $70.2 billion), with 5.2% of the business, accounted for 4.8% of the complaints, and U.S. Bancorp (2012 revenue: $20.3 billion), with a 2.9% share, generated 1.7% of the complaints.
The bureau—created in response to the financial crisis caused by reckless behavior on Wall Street — has also released complaint databases about credit cards, student loans, bank accounts and other consumer loans.
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