The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is growing in popularity as a tool for consumers to air problems with their auto loans and leases. The first half of 2014 saw a 36.8% increase in complaints logged with the CFPB over the first half of 2013, with 1,409 complaints this year compared with 1,030 complaints a year prior. Santander Consumer USA was the lender with the most complaints, followed closely by Ally Bank.
The previous year, Wells Fargo & Co. topped the list with 120 complaints, followed by Santander with 100 and Ally with 92.
Santander was named in 189 complaints, and Ally in 179, according to an Auto Finance News analysis of the data. Wells Fargo was named in 109 complaints, and Capital One Financial Corp. turned up in 81 complaints.
Credit Acceptance Corp. earned the most complaints per $1 billion in outstandings with 13.289. M&T Bank was next with 10.256.
BMW Financial Services had just 0.642 per $1 billion in loans, making it 25th among all lenders. Ford Motor Credit, VW Credit Inc. and Bank of America did not make the Top 25 – which in this case is a good thing. Bank of America, with a $41 billion portfolio, had just 10 CFPB complaints – 0.487 per $1 billion.
Toyota Motor Credit Corp. led all captives with 53 complaints, with General Motors Financial Corp. close behind with 52. American Honda Finance Corp. picked up 37 complaints, while Hyundai Capital America had 27. Ford Motor Credit (credit.ford.com) and Nissan Motor Acceptance Corp. both received 26 complaints.
The following bank lenders each earned 20 or more complaints as well: TD Bank and JPMorgan Chase both received 39 complaints; U.S. Bancorp (38); Fifth Third Bank (32); BB&T Financial (24), and Bank of America had 20.
Credit Acceptance Corp., an independent indirect lender, had 32 complaints.
JPMorgan Chase saw the biggest drop in complaints, with just 39 in 2014, down from 74 in 2013, a decline of 47%. Santander saw the largest rise in number of complaints year-over-year with 89, while Exeter Financial had the biggest rise in percentage of complaints, jumping to 15 from 3, a rise of 400%.
The CFPB began logging auto finance-related complaints in March 2012. Complaints fall into four categories: shopping for a loan or lease, taking out the loan or lease, managing the loan or lease, and problems if the consumer is unable to make payments on the loan or lease.
On the portal for submitting complaints, the CFPB states that consumers can enter their grievances into the database and it will be forwarded to the relevant company. Consumers not wishing to lodge complaints can instead choose the option to “tell your story,” which the bureau also scans for information about lender actions.
2013 saw several high-profile enforcement actions issued by the CFPB, including a $6.5 million fine handed to U.S. Bank and Dealers’ Financial Services LLC in June and the $98 million Ally was forced to pay for alleged discriminatory practices from its dealers in December. 2014 has been more quiet, despite the rise in complaints.
March and April saw the most complaints in 2014, with 294 and 283 respectively, while June was the quietest month with 130. There were 235 complaints per month on average so far in 2014, while the monthly complaint total in the first half of 2013 averaged 172.