More consumers are complaining that their credit card providers do not have clear policies as to when monthly payments are credited.
This confusion has led to the category of “surprise late fees” topping the latest monthly credit card complaints tally from the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Consumers’ most frequent complaints were about incurring late fees and credit report problems “due to confusing payment processing schedules and difficulty disputing bill inaccuracies,” the CFPB says.
September’s complaint snapshot also featured the most-complained-about companies. Citibank, Capital One, GE Capital Retail, and JPMorgan Chase accounted for nearly 60 percent of credit card complaints submitted to the Bureau between May and July 2015, the CFPB said.
Of these companies, Citibank received 708 complaints during this time period, which was more than one hundred more complaints than the second most complained about company, Capital One. Company-level information should be considered in the context of company size and activity in the relevant market.
“It is important for consumers to be able to control how their payments are applied and to have clear information about their rights as cardholders,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “The Bureau will continue to work to protect people as they are using credit cards.”
Here is the CFPB’s summary of the top issues reported by consumers:
Confusion over how late fees are assessed: Problems making payments is the primary issue many consumers complained about, representing 16 percent of credit card-related complaints. Consumers who complained about billing issues frequently mention that they are charged surprise late fees because the company did not make it clear that payments would be not credited the day the payment was made.
Problems resolving inaccuracies on billing statements: Consumers reported experiencing frustration and confusion when they attempted to dispute charges on their credit card bills. Many consumers complained that they did not have clear information on the amount of time they had to dispute charges they believed were wrong. Others complained that they were not made aware that their credit card company would not assist them in a dispute with a merchant.
Accounts closed without consumer consent: Seven percent of consumer credit card complaints were about accounts being closed by credit card companies without advance warning. In the majority of these situations, the company stated that the account closure occurred because of suspected fraud on the card. Consumers said they were often not informed by the credit card company of the potential fraud on their cards before they were deactivated.