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CFPB: Prepaid Complaints Down Sharply in Final Quarter of 2016

Prepaid-related complaints to the CFPB plummeted during the last quarter of 2016, compared with the same period in 2015, according to the bureau’s latest consumer complaint report. The three-month period of October through December of 2016 saw a monthly average of 189 prepaid-related complaints, down 59 percent from an average of 458 per month for the final three months of 2015.

The sharp decline in prepaid complaints for the last quarter of 2016 likely can be attributed to the abnormally high figures from the end of 2015, which saw a spike in prepaid-related complaints after a technical glitch caused many holders of the popular RushCard prepaid card to be unable to access funds or receive direct deposits to their cards. The outage and subsequent social media solicitation from the CFPB led to about 830 complaints from RushCard users alone in the weeks following the October glitch, according to the bureau.

The 204 prepaid-related consumer complaints received by the CFPB in December 2016 was down slightly from the average of 212 per month since the agency began tracking prepaid complaints in July 2014. And prepaid continued to comprise a tiny fraction of all consumer complaints received by the CFPB, with 6,602 total prepaid complaints among the 1.8 million overall complaints the bureau has received from consumers since its establishment in 2011.

Debt collection was the most common topic of consumer complaints to the CFPB in December, according to the report. Of 22,852 total complaints for the month, 7,196 were related to debt collection—up 7 percent compared with the previous month. Complaints about credit reporting ranked second, with 3,837 complaints in December—a 5 percent downtick from November. Mortgage complaints (spotlighted in the latest report) followed closely behind, at 3,762, also down 5 percent from the previous month.

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