Data show top banks get most complaints

June 20, 2012

Major banks including JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Citigroup were the subjects of the largest number of complaints to the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in 2011, according to data obtained through a public records request.

Bank of America accounted for about 13 percent of the 13,210 complaints, mostly about credit cards, to the bureau between July 21 and Dec. 31. JPMorgan and Citigroup each accounted for about 11 percent, Capital One Financial represented about 8 percent and Wells Fargo accounted for about 5 percent. The number of complaints was roughly consistent with the size of the banks’ credit card business.

Complaints filed since June 1 were made available to the public on the consumer bureau’s Web site Wednesday, a spokesman said in an e-mailed statement. Complaints from before then will be included later this year, it said.

“We intend to make this data widely available to consumers, advocacy groups, businesses, policymakers and journalists,” Richard Cordray, the bureau’s director, said in a telephone news conference. “Anyone with access to the Web will be able to review and analyze the information and draw their own conclusions.”

Capital One spokesman Pam Girardo said, “We’re always interested in customer feedback — good and bad — since we are focused on continuous improvement and providing a great customer experience.”

Spokesmen for JPMorgan and Citigroup declined to comment. Spokesmen for Bank of America and Wells Fargo did not respond to requests for comment.

The consumer bureau on Dec. 8 proposed a rule that would provide for public disclosure of data on credit card complaints that excludes consumers’ personal identification. The banking industry has objected to the publication of company names.

Steven Zeisel, vice president and general counsel for the Consumer Bankers Association, wrote in a Jan. 30 comment on the proposal that disclosure would expose banks to “undue reputational risk and harm.”

“The inclusion of identifying information on institutions in a public database will likely only serve to provide one- sided, unsubstantiated views of consumer complaints,” Zeisel wrote.

The 2010 Dodd-Frank legislation requires the consumer bureau to set up a complaint system and gives it authority to make the data it collects public. The database will include the type of complaint, the complainant’s zip code, the name of the company and a description of what action, if any, the company took in response, the agency said.

The 2011 complaint data obtained under a public records request is roughly consistent with the banks’ status as the largest credit card issuers in the United States. The top issuers by number of cards are JPMorgan, Bank of America, Citigroup, Discover Financial Services and American Express, according to February data published by The Nilson Report, an industry newsletter.

— Bloomberg News

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