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Dev Gowda,
Illinois PIRG

Report: Capital One Most-Complained-About Credit Card Company in Illinois

Illinois Consumers Getting Relief Through the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Public Consumer Complaints Database
For Immediate Release

Chicago – Illinois consumers file more complaints about Capital One than any other credit card company, according to a report released today by Illinois PIRG Education Fund. The report looked at data from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) public Consumer Complaints Database.

“The CFPB is empowering consumers to demand accountability from their credit card companies,” said Dev Gowda, Advocate for Illinois PIRG Education Fund. “Finally, consumers ripped off by junky credit card add-ons or unfair billing disputes have somewhere to turn.”

"For years, consumers who fell prey to the tricks and traps of credit card companies had nowhere to turn," said U.S. Senator Dick Durbin. "We created the CFPB to give consumers a voice and an ally against financial industry abuses.  By collecting consumer complaints about credit card providers and shining a light on them, CFPB is helping consumers obtain real relief that will help them pay their bills and provide for their families. I commend Illinois PIRG for its report shining a light on these issues.” 

“The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was created to protect consumers against unfair or deceptive financial products and services,” said U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL).  “This detailed report by Illinois PIRG – the first of its kind – shows the customer service records of major credit card companies, the CFPB’s progress in addressing misconduct, and also opportunities for improved oversight.  This is a tool every consumer should consider before activating a new credit card.”

The report, "Credit Cards, Consumer Complaints: The CFPB's Consumer Complaint Database Gets Real Results for Credit Card Holders"”, is the fourth in a series of reports by Illinois PIRG Education Fund that analyze the complaints in the CFPB’s consumer complaints database. The CFPB has been accepting complaints about credit cards since July 2011, and has expanded since then to accept complaints about a variety of financial products and services. Previous reports in the series have analyzed complaints about bank accounts, private student loans, and credit reporting.

Some key findings:

  • The most complained-about credit card company in Illinois is Capital One. Nationally, Capital One also generated the most complaints overall.
  • Nearly 40% of credit card complaints to the CFPB result in tangible relief to the consumer. Over 7,300 consumers have received monetary relief through the CFPB, and over 2,300 additional consumers have received non-monetary relief such as adjusting interest rates or correcting information with a credit reporting agency.  In total, the CFPB has helped nearly 10,000 consumers get relief from credit card problems.
  • The median amount of monetary relief for credit card complaints was $128.
  • Consumers were most likely to complain about billing disputes (16 percent of complaints), followed by difficulties with APR or interest rates (10 percent) and trouble with identity theft, fraud, and embezzlement (7 percent).
  • Consumers disputed about 20 percent of the responses from credit card companies.

In addition to the complaint database, the CFPB has numerous tools for making credit cards work better for consumers. It enforces provisions of the 2009 Credit CARD Act that helps consumers avoid penalty fees and unfair interest rate increases. And after a significant number of complaints about credit card add-ons, the CFPB’s first enforcement actions in 2012 addressed these issues head-on. CFPB actions against Discover, Capital One, American Express, Chase, and GE Capital Retail credit cards have totaled over $800 million in refunds to consumers.

“CFPB has already been effective in providing relief to consumers – obtaining compensation for 40 percent of credit card holders who have filed complaints,” said Schakowsky.   “Moving forward, I will continue to work to make sure that the CFPB has the resources it needs to end the financial abuse of consumers and to ensure that those who are mistreated are fairly compensated.”

The report also highlighted several recommendations to the CFPB in order to improve the usefulness and accessibility of the database, such as developing a mobile app version for smartphone users. Most importantly, the CFPB should analyze the data regularly and continue to hold companies responsible for deceptive practices.

“The CFPB has taken great strides in holding credit card companies accountable,” said Gowda. “Thanks to its work with consumer complaints and enforcement actions, the CFPB is getting results for credit card holders.” 

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Download the report, “Credit Cards, Credit Woes: The CFPB’s Consumer Complaints Database Gets Real Results for Consumers”

This is the fourth in a series of five reports by the Illinois PIRG Education Fund that analyze the complaints in the CFPB’s public Consumer Complaints Database. The next report will analyze complaints relating to debt collection.

Visit the CFPB’s public Consumer Complaints Database: www.consumerfinance.gov/complaintdatabase/ 

Note: This press release has been revised from its original version.

Illinois PIRG Education Fund works to protect consumers and promote good government. We investigate problems, craft solutions, educate the public, and offer meaningful opportunities for civic participation. www.illinoispirgedfund.org

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