Consumers Worry About Pandemic Financial Options

May 26, 2020

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says it has received a record number of consumer complaints in March and April as consumers grew concerned over their finances at the onset of the global pandemic.

In March, CFPB says it received about 36,700 complaints from consumers about financial services providers. In April, they received 42,500 complaints. Both March and April made up the highest the agency has ever received in its history.

Complaints mostly centered on credit reporting, which jumped 29%. Complaints about title loans increased by 20%, and complaints about mortgages increased by 10%.

Many consumers expressed dissatisfaction with the wait times to get answers to questions. “Some consumers are reporting hold times of several hours,” CFPB noted in the report. “For those who are pursuing payment options, some described no methods other than phone to access potential options.”

With mortgages, forbearance rules and requirements were a hot topic of confusion. “Consumers raised concerns whether they will have to pay lump-sum payments at the completion of forbearance periods,” CFPB noted. “Many of these consumers reported that companies offering forbearance periods informed them that there would be a balloon payment equal to the entire amount placed in forbearance. Some consumers report that the 90-day forbearance period offered is insufficient and they will not be in a position to submit a lump sum payment in 90 days.”

The National Association of REALTORS® has been helping to provide brochures that real estate professionals can customize and use to help inform their clients and also help dispel myths about forbearance. One brochure—“Protect Your Investment”—is available at realtorparty.realtor and outlines what homeowners should ask lenders about their options and payback when weighing forbearance.