Since it launched last summer, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's complaint website has been giving Americans a way to file grievances about a number of money-related issues. It started with credit cards, but as the months went by, it expanded its scope. You could file a complaint about a mortgage, a bank account, an auto or personal loan and even a student loan.
Until now, though, the agency offered no option to fight back over a key source of anguish for many consumers: their credit reports.
If you've ever run into trouble with your credit score -- whether there was an error on your credit report, say, or you couldn't get information you were entitled to -- you're aware of how difficult in can be to get to the bottom of such problems. After all, there are three different major credit reporting agencies, each with its own opaque criteria for calculating scores. But the CFPB credit report complaint portal, which launched on Tuesday, should make the task easier.
The site offers the option to seek redress for five key problems:
Incorrect information on your credit report
Issues with a credit reporting agency's investigation
Improper use of your credit report
Inability to get a credit report or credit score
Problems with credit monitoring or identity protection services
"Credit reporting companies exert great influence over the lives of consumers. They help determine eligibility for loans, housing, and sometimes jobs," said CFPB Director Richard Cordray in a press release. "Consumers need an avenue of recourse when they feel they have been wronged."
Plenty of consumers have taken advantage of the bureau's oversight since the complaint portal launched for credit cards in July 2011. According to a CFPB snapshot, the bureau received approximately 45,630 complaints between July 21, 2011 and June 1, 2012. It issued responses in 81% of the complaints. Another 6% were still awaiting responses, while the rest had either been sent to other regulatory agencies or found to be incomplete.
The first thing to do when you have a complaint is to try to work it out with the reporting agency directly. Links and contact information for the agencies can be found on the CFPB complaint site.
Beyond dealing with big issues, there are plenty of little things you can do to keep your credit score healthy -- and it's important for your financial well-being that you do. For some tips, check out Seven Small Mistakes That Can Do Big Harm to Your Credit Score. And keep an eye on your credit report to make sure that it doesn't have these three red flags.