Report: Mortgages most common finance complaint – San Gabriel Valley Tribune – The San Gabriel Valley Tribune

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Mortgage problems have topped the list of gripes reported to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — and most of the mortgage-related gripes were directed at Bank of America, according to a newly released report.

The findings came from the CALPIRG — California Public Interest Research Group — Education Fund, an independent public-interest group, which drew its information from the federal agency’s consumer complaint database.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was established in 2010 through the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Its mission is to identify dangerous and unfair monetary practices, educate the public about those practices and regulate the financial institutions that perpetuate them.

CFPB began accepting complaints in July 2011 for 11 financial product categories. Mortgage complaints were added to the mix that December. Since then, some 138,086 mortgage complaints have been made public — more than for any other financial product or service for the period running from December 2011 to March 16, 2015.

Through the years, consumers have expressed frustration over fees associated with the foreclosure process, fees charged by a prior loan servicer, unexplained escrow deficiencies and a lack of communication between a loan’s old and new servicer.

Mortgage complaint volumes did decline slightly in 2014, while the volume of grievances in other product categories — including credit reporting, consumer loans and student loans — continued to grow, the report said. But mortgage-related issues still account for the highest concentration of complaints — 38 percent overall.

That doesn’t surprise Tom Adams, owner of Century 21 Adams & Barnes in Monrovia.

“One of the biggest complaints you hear about is people trying to get assistance when they are upside down and facing foreclosure,” he said. “The bulk of those complaints come from people who thought there was some relief waiting for them, only to find out that they don’t qualify for it.”

The problem was compounded, according to Adams, when the state Legislature diverted more than $331 million in housing-related funds to help balance California’s budget. That money was initially intended to help struggling homeowners affected by the foreclosure crisis and could have gone toward loan modifications and restoring credit scores.

Most of the mortgage-related complaints in CALPIRG’S report fall into two categories — inability to pay (resulting in loan modification, collection and foreclosure) and trouble paying consistently (related to loan servicing, payments and escrow accounts).

Ten companies accounted for 77 percent of the complaints. They include Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Ocwen, JPMorgan Chase, Nationstar Mortgage, Citibank, Green Tree Servicing, HSBC, U.S. Bancorp and PNC Bank.

But Bank of America topped the list with 31,123 complaints, or nearly 23 percent of the total. The remaining top five were Wells Fargo (13.9 percent), Ocwen (11.2 percent), JPMorgan Chase (9 percent) and Nationstar (6.3 percent).

Topping the list of financial products and services that angered or confused consumers were debt collection (57,283), credit reporting (50,792), credit card issues (46,389), bank accounts or servicing (42,757), consumer loans (11,781) and student loans (10,863).

The report found that U.S. Bancorp and BofA were the most likely institutions to extend monetary or non-monetary relief, satisfying 20 percent and 18.3 percent of their mortgage-related complaints, respectively.

BofA spokeswoman Jumana Bauwens said the numbers in CALPRIG’s report are skewed because the statistics begin just three years after the bank acquired the failing Countrywide Financial Corp., which had accumulated a massive pile of defective mortgages as a result of its subprime lending.

“They started collecting data at the height of the housing crisis,” Bauwens said. “If you look at our complaints in the mortgage sector, they are going down year after year.”

A different report from the CFPB ranks Bank of America third among the most complained about companies from February through April of 2015, behind credit reporting agencies Equifax and Experian.

BofA’s three-month average was 802 complaints, down 14 percent from the same period a year earlier. The bulk of those recent complaints were mortgage-related as well, followed by bank account services, credit card issues and debt collection.

The J.D. Power 2014 U.S. Primary Mortgage Origination Satisfaction Survey ranked BofA second best in customer satisfaction for mortgage origination experience, falling just behind Quicken Loans. That survey evaluates customer satisfaction based on six factors — loan offerings, application/approval process, interaction, closings, onboarding — transferring a loan from one servicer to another — and problem resolution.

Report: Mortgages most common finance complaint – San Gabriel Valley Tribune – The San Gabriel Valley Tribune}