Skeletons in the Database: An Early Analysis of the CFPB's Consumer Complaints

42 Pages Posted: 18 Jul 2013 Last revised: 9 Aug 2013

Ian Ayres

Yale University - Yale Law School; Yale University - Yale School of Management

Jeff Lingwall

Truman State University

Sonia Steinway

Yale Law School

Date Written: July 17, 2013

Abstract

Analyzing a new data set of 110,000 consumer complaints lodged with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, we find that (i) Bank of America, Citibank, and PNC Bank were significantly less timely in responding to consumer complaints than the average financial institution; (ii) consumers of some of the largest financial services providers, including Wells Fargo, Amex, and Bank of America, were significantly more likely than average to dispute the company‘s response to their initial complaints; and (iii) among companies that provide mortgages, OneWest Bank, HSBC, Nationstar Mortgage, and Bank of America all received more mortgage complaints relative to mortgages sold than other banks. In addition, regression analysis suggests that consumer financial companies respond differently to complaints about different products and based on different issues, generating significant differences in timeliness of response, as well as significant differences in whether consumers dispute that response. Moreover, demographics matter: there were significant increases in mortgage complaints per mortgage in ZIP codes with larger proportions of certain populations, including Blacks and Hispanics, as well as an increase in untimeliness and company responses disputed for groups on which the CFPB is mandated to focus, including senior citizens and college students.

Keywords: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), consumer complaints, financial service providers

Suggested Citation

Ayres, Ian and Lingwall, Jeff and Steinway, Sonia, Skeletons in the Database: An Early Analysis of the CFPB's Consumer Complaints (July 17, 2013). Yale Law & Economics Research Paper No. 475. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2295157 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2295157

Ian Ayres (Contact Author)

Yale University - Yale Law School ( email )

P.O. Box 208215
New Haven, CT 06520-8215
United States
203-432-7101 (Phone)
203-432-2592 (Fax)

Yale University - Yale School of Management

135 Prospect Street
P.O. Box 208200
New Haven, CT 06520-8200
United States

Jeff Lingwall

Truman State University ( email )

100 E. Normal Street
Kirksville, MO 63501
United States

Sonia Steinway

Yale Law School ( email )

P.O. Box 208215
New Haven, CT 06520-8215
United States

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