14,100. Sounds like a random number, doesn’t it? But to us, 14,100 represents the number of servicemembers, veterans and their family members whose stories have come to us through their consumer complaints.
I emphasize the word “stories” because each complaint is much more than a case number. Behind those case numbers are servicemembers with questions about mortgages, military spouses seeking to invoke consumer legal protections on behalf of their deployed spouse, veterans desperately fighting scams that threaten to steal their retirement income, and many more members of the military community with compelling, sometimes heartbreaking, real-life stories.
In the Snapshot of complaints received from servicemembers, veterans, and their families that we’re releasing today, you’ll find the types and trends of military consumer complaints that the CFPB has handled since opening our doors in July 2011. We have received complaints from all 50 states and from all branches and ranks of the military. Our complaint volume increased 148 percent from 2012 to 2013 as we spread the word about the resources that we provide to the military community. Mortgages continue to top the cumulative volume of complaints handled to date.
However, newer categories of complaints we began accepting last year, such as debt collection and payday loans, have climbed steadily and now factor prominently into our complaint totals. In fact, since we began taking debt collection complaints in July 2013, debt collection has quickly become the highest volume complaint category for military consumers over the last seven months. Within the report you will find a breakdown of the complaints by product as well as the top issues within each product for military consumers.
More than a million dollars in relief
Contained within the report are company-reported monetary relief amounts. The amounts vary by product, but, overall, military consumers have received more than $1 million in monetary relief. We’ve also assisted many military consumers in obtaining non-monetary relief, such as correcting credit report errors, in a number of cases helping to address problems that may have been affecting the consumer for months or even years.
At the Office of Servicemember Affairs we work to monitor consumer complaints submitted by the military community and the resolutions to those complaints. Simply put, our job is to keep an eye on the consumer financial issues causing servicemembers, veterans, and military families to come to us for help, and to see if those issues are addressed through our complaint system. Our snapshot report gives you an idea of the numbers of complaints submitted as well as how the companies have responded.
If you’re a member of the military community who needs assistance with a consumer financial issue, or you know a servicemember, veteran, or military spouse in that situation, think about submitting a complaint. Even if you don’t have a complaint, and you just want to share an experience in the financial market place, consider telling us your story. We’re listening.