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How to Submit a CFPB Complaint

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Complaint
Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman
Sulaiman Abdur-RahmanUpdated April 17, 2023
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You can submit a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau complaint whenever you’ve been treated unfairly by a bank, credit bureau, or financial services company. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is a government agency that investigates and helps resolve consumer complaints.You may submit a CFPB complaint through the bureau’s website, toll-free phone number, or mailing address. The CFPB advises that you first attempt to resolve your issue with the company before filing a CFPB complaint.Below we highlight how the CFPB complaint process works. We also dive into the CFPB complaint definition if you’ve been wronged by a credit bureau, financial institution, or scammer.

What Is a CFPB Complaint?

A Consumer Financial Protection Bureau complaint is a formal complaint that you can submit to the CFPB regarding any grievance or dispute that you have with a credit bureau or financial services institution.What’s the CFPB complaint definition? It’s a statement from a consumer that details a mistake, misdeed, or poor customer service involving a financial institution or credit bureau. The CFPB received nearly 1.3 million consumer complaints in 2022, including more than 869,000 credit or consumer reporting complaints about Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.The CFPB also fields complaints about fraud or identity theft. About 5,800 money services complaints in 2022 came from consumers who cited fraud or scam as their top issue, according to CFPB data.

What Is the CFPB Complaint Process?

The CFPB complaint process is a government system that allows consumers to submit complaints about credit bureaus, financial institutions, or scammers. After you submit a complaint to the CFPB, the bureau reviews your complaint and sends it to the company for review if the CFPB finds your complaint to be actionable.Companies are expected to provide consumers and the CFPB with a final response to the complaint within 60 days of receiving the complaint. Companies usually provide a timely response to actionable consumer complaints, according to CFPB data. Under federal law and regulations, companies can be held liable and face enforcement action if they fail to respond to your actionable CFPB complaint in a timely manner. Sometimes the CFPB may refer your complaint to another government agency if the bureau determines that another government agency is better equipped to investigate your complaint.

What Situations Are Covered by CFPB Complaints?

Here are 17 situations where you can submit a CFPB complaint:
  1. Your credit report from one of the big three credit bureaus has reporting errors
  2. You dispute a purchase shown on your credit card statement
  3. You dispute overdraft fees related to an unwanted bank overdraft loan
  4. You dispute the origination fee on a personal loan 
  5. You’re struggling to pay a mortgage loan
  6. You experience unreasonable delays when transferring money between banks
  7. You’ve paid off your car loan and are having problems getting your car title and lien release
  8. You have problems dealing with your student loan servicer
  9. You have trouble accessing funds on a prepaid card
  10. You’ve suffered losses in an auto loan scam
  11. You’ve fallen victim to debit card fraud and are having difficulty getting monetary relief
  12. You’ve taken out a title loan that charged fees or interest you didn’t expect 
  13. You’ve received an unsolicited payday loan cash advance check from a company
  14. You have problems closing a bank account
  15. You have problems opening a bank account
  16. A financial institution takes money from your top savings accounts against your wishes
  17. You have problems locating funds from your certificate of deposit (CD) or other personal types of bank accounts
Recommended: Business vs. Personal Bank Accounts

When Should You File a CFPB Complaint?

You may submit a CFPB complaint whenever you’ve been wronged by a credit bureau, financial services company, or scammer. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reviews all complaints to determine whether the complaint is actionable. A credit bureau or financial institution generally must respond to an actionable CFPB complaint in a timely manner.There’s no cost or fee to submit a CFPB complaint, and you don’t need anyone’s permission to submit it. You can submit a CFPB complaint whenever you feel compelled to do so.Attempting to resolve your grievance with the company before submitting a CFPB complaint might be recommended by the bureau, but it’s not required. Sometimes the CFPB receives complaints from consumers who don’t attempt to resolve their issue with the company before submitting their complaint.

How to File a CFPB Complaint 

Here are the basic steps to file a CFPB complaint:

1. Develop Your Complaint

The first step in filing a CFPB complaint is to develop an argument for your action. The CFPB expects you to explain your grievance and what you think would be a good resolution. The bureau typically wants to know whether you’ve tried to resolve the issue with the credit bureau or financial institution before contacting the CFPB.Developing your complaint is important, because consumers usually can’t submit a second complaint about the same issue if the CFPB found the first complaint to be not actionable. Part of developing your complaint is gathering important details, such as the company’s name and specific details on when and how the company treated you unfairly.

2. Choose a CFPB Complaint Venue

After developing your complaint, the next step is to choose a venue for making the CFPB complaint. You may have the following options:
  • Submitting a complaint on the CFPB website
  • Submitting a complaint through the CFPB toll-free phone number at (855) 411-2372
  • Submitting a complaint via postal mail 
  • Submitting a complaint to a party that refers your complaint to the CFPB
Submitting an online complaint is generally the fastest route to file a complaint. Submitting a CFPB complaint via postal mail may be the slowest route, but consumers are welcome to do so at the following mailing address:Consumer Financial Protection BureauPO Box 27170Washington, DC 20038

3. Move Forward With Your Complaint

Once you’ve developed your complaint and determined the venue you wish to use, you can move forward with submitting your complaint to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.You may complete the submission process through the bureau’s website, over the bureau’s toll-free phone number, or by mailing a written complaint to the CFPB’s mailing address as mentioned above.Recommended: Bank Error in Your Favor: What Happens Next?

The Takeaway

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 established the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to help protect consumers from unfair, deceptive, or abusive practices. This is the federal law that empowers you to file a CFPB complaint when a credit bureau, bank, or nonbank financial institution treats you unfairly. This may help some fraud victims get monetary relief from a company.If you’re having trouble opening a savings account, Lantern by SoFi can help. Our online banking marketplace makes it easy to compare annual percentage yields (APYs) and choose a bank account that’s right for you.Compare today’s high-yield savings rates including fees and balance minimums.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can you report to the CFPB?
Does the CFPB get your money back?
Does CFPB cost money?
Photo credit: iStock/Delmaine Donson

About the Author

Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman

Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman

Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman writes about personal loans, auto loans, student loans, and other personal finance topics for Lantern. He’s the recipient of more than 10 journalism awards and served as a New Jersey Society of Professional Journalists board member. An alumnus of the Philadelphia-based Temple University, Abdur-Rahman is a strong advocate of the First Amendment and freedom of speech.
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