Center for American Progress

Analysis of CFPB Complaints by State: Helping Consumers in California
Fact Sheet

Analysis of CFPB Complaints by State: Helping Consumers in California

The CFPB has stood up for everyday consumers and fought against unfair treatment in California.

Photo shows a closeup of an ATM dispensing cash above the keypad
An ATM dispenses cash, in California, December 2021. (Getty/Gado)

On October 3, 2023, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) v. Community Financial Services Association of America regarding the constitutionality of the agency’s independent funding structure. CFPB critics have long sought to limit the agency’s congressionally given autonomy and, by extension, its capacity to promote a fairer financial marketplace for all consumers. The Supreme Court’s decision in the case, which will come down next spring, could significantly harm consumers and spread uncertainty in the financial markets.

Since opening its doors 12 years ago, the CFPB has been a formidable advocate for everyday Americans, holding financial institutions accountable for predatory practices and returning $17.5 billion to wronged customers across the 50 states, including in California.

A note on the CFPB’s complaint data

The information in this fact sheet is drawn from the CFPB’s Consumer Complaint Database. Individuals submit complaints about challenges they are facing on financial transactions, and the CFPB works on their behalf to contact financial institutions and businesses to get answers. In addition, the CFPB uses the database to better understand trends and potential harm to consumers, supervise companies, enforce federal consumer financial laws, and write better rules and regulations. Ninety-eight percent of complaints sent to companies by the CFPB receive timely responses.

All complaint data used in this fact sheet represent the total number of complaints over the period from December 1, 2011, to August 29, 2023. The data were last accessed in September 2023.

By the numbers: CFPB complaints in California

12.03

Number of complaints received per 1,000 people

469,372

Total number of complaints that the CFPB took action on

22,473

Number of complaints from servicemembers that the CFPB took action on

21,063

Number of complaints from older Americans (62 and older) that the CFPB took action on

What kinds of complaints do consumers in California seek help with?

Consumers select from a menu specifying both a product and an issue when filing complaints. The following are the top categories of complaints, and examples of issues associated with those complaints, on which consumers in California request help:

Credit reporting, credit repair services, or other personal consumer reports: 220,817 complaints

  • Examples of issues could include incorrect credit reporting about inquiries or payments, information errors on credit reports, credit report privacy concerns, predatory fees by credit repair services, and more.

Mortgage: 61,821 complaints

  • Products could include home mortgages, Federal Housing Administration and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs mortgages, home equity loans, and reverse mortgages.
  • Examples of issues could include payment process problems with autopay, escrow, taxes, and insurance; struggling to pay mortgages and foreclosures; and unfair fees and applications.

Debt collection: 56,865 complaints

  • Products could include medical, auto, credit card, student loan, and mortgage debt.
  • Examples of issues could include attempts to collect debt not owed, debt that was paid off, debt disputes due to identity fraud, and more.

Credit card or prepaid card: 29,619 complaints

  • Examples of products and issues could include credit cards, store cards, government benefit cards and others being opened or closed without permission, transaction errors, declined card usage, unfair fees, or application denials.

Checking or savings account: 26,167 complaints

  • Complaints could include checking accounts and other banking products and services, including savings accounts and certificates of deposits.
  • Examples of issues include fees, privacy concerns, accounts opened without permission, fraudulent transactions, and other considerations around managing an account related to deposits, withdrawals, ATM cards, and more.

Top 4 issues on which California consumers have sought help across all financial products

  • Incorrect information on the consumer’s credit report: 114,990
  • Problem with a credit reporting company’s investigation into an existing problem: 57,320
  • Improper use of the consumer’s credit report: 45,169
  • Loan modification, collection, foreclosure: 22,281

The positions of American Progress, and our policy experts, are independent, and the findings and conclusions presented are those of American Progress alone. A full list of supporters is available here. American Progress would like to acknowledge the many generous supporters who make our work possible.

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