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CFPB Gets Plurality of Complaints About Mortgages

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has a hotline for complaints, as well as a process to lodge complaints at their website. They have begun to release those complaint reports, protecting the identity of the consumer but providing an understanding of where the trouble in the financial system lies with respect to those consumers. Here’s a giant surprise: the plurality of the complaints are on mortgage issues.

CFPB data shows the bureau received 55,300 consumer complaints from July 21, 2011, through June 30.

Of those complaints, 43% involved mortgage issues. Credit cards ranked second in terms of complaint volume, representing 34% of all first-year calls. Student loans represented only 4% of all calls to the CFPB, while bank accounts and service issues drove 15% of the agency’s complaint traffic.

Even more interesting is what areas the mortgage complaints covered:

Of the mortgage complaints reported to the CFPB, 54% involved borrowers who had problems with their loan modifications, a debt collection or foreclosure.

Twenty-five percent of the complaints came from borrowers who had problems related to payments, escrow accounts and loan servicing. Eight percent of the mortgage traffic involved issues when applying for a loan, followed by 4% who had trouble when signing mortgage agreements and 2% who had issues when receiving a credit offer. The remaining 7% of the complaints involved other issues.

So the majority of the issues covered foreclosures and loan modifications. Keep in mind that CFPB didn’t start taking complaints until July 2011. That’s AFTER the robo-signing scandal, after all the revelations of faulty servicing, in the midst of the five leading mortgage servicers negotiating with banks on settling over these issues of loan modifications and foreclosures. Indeed, a substantial chunk of this time comes AFTER the big five servicers signed the agreement, the foreclosure fraud settlement. And yet that remains the highest incidence of complaints. The next batch of 25% are problems with payments and servicing, which were also supposed to be covered by the settlement.

This is a pretty good barometer of whether or not the servicers have cleaned up their operations on foreclosures and loan modifications. And it’s pretty clear they haven’t. That’s because the servicing model itself is totally broken.

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David Dayen

David Dayen