The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently announced that it is taking credit card complaints and complaints regarding problems with mortgages in New York.
Consumer protection agencies created by the government may provide some oversight for private companies, but often lack the power to create any amount of change. Typically, only legal action taken against a company can result in any meaningful response for a consumer who is wronged.Consumer complaints can come in a variety of ways and for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, the actions that are taken by companies can directly result in major harm to the consumer. This has been especially true in recent years in the wake of the mortgage foreclosure debacle throughout this country.
Banks have used unlawful and unethical tactics in an effort to take away people’s homes. They have used robo-signed documents — that which are signed by mortgage servicers hired by banks and are supposed to be signed by bank officials who review the paperwork for accuracy.
The banks have also filed paperwork that was intentionally altered to support their taking away of a person’s house through foreclosure. By backdating paperwork and having it notarized on dates that couldn’t possibly be accurate, the banks were able to take away millions of homes.
The government agency was created this year and was designed to take consumer complaints and pass them on to the companies and set up a tracking system for customers to follow their complaints.
The agency’s first report is on credit card complaints. An agency report states that consumers filed more than 5,000 complaints against credit card companies, the first types of complaints that were taken from consumers. Of those, more than 13 percent dealt with billing disputes as their main complaint, while another 10 percent related to identity theft and interest rates. Other complaints filed by consumers dealt with fees, payments, canceling accounts and credit reporting.
In providing its first report since being created in July, the agency reported that it has begun taking complaints about home mortgages as well. Agency officials hope to take all consumer complaints starting next year.
The agency is designed to take consumer complaints and be a go-between for consumers and the companies they deal with. The agency must produce semi-annual reports to Congress detailing the types of reports it is receiving from American consumers.
The information then may be analyzed to determine trends and patterns that may be used to help consumers. Ultimately, however, the agency has no power to make changes that could help consumers, but aims to collect data that may be applied later.
Collecting data on mortgage problems may actually help consumer protection agencies in the future, however. Banks have stripped away people’s homes — millions and counting — through bad acts and unfair trade practices. Future data may go to addressing the problem and aiding consumers.
Foreclosures are a major issue in this country and will continue to be for years in the future. Many remain hopeful that getting to the root of the foreclosure problem in America will help the real estate market recover more quickly as well. Certainly addressing where consumers have been wronged throughout the mortgage foreclosure problem in New York and nationwide will be a start.