For the past couple of years the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has been your advocate. They handle complaints regarding just about anything that has to do with finances. And since they started in 2011, they have been keeping track of who is submitting these complaints. Every six months they release their Office of Servicemember Affairs Semi-Annual Complaint Report. What they generally find is that the complaints that come from active, retired, and veteran military personnel (including their wives and dependents) are proportional to the complaints received from the general population. The most recent report shows a snapshot of what these complaints looked like during 2012.
Last year the bureau fielded 3,455 complaints from military and military associated Americans. These complaints ranged all across the board of what the CFPB covers, including mortgages, credit cards, and student loans. Over half of the complaints had to do with mortgage related matters, and most of the complaints were resolved in a timely manner. And many of those complaints had to do with situations specific to those in the military.
For instance one complaint had to do with an active duty airman. He received permanent change of station orders in April of 2012. Since he had no option but to relocate permanently, he sought to get approval from his mortgage company to sell his house through the means of a short sale (basically this means selling the home for whatever it is worth, even if it less than the amount required to pay off the mortgage). After several months of trying, the company denied his request for short sale. He contacted his military legal representative, who contacted the CFPB. His legal advisor told him to contact the CFPB and submit a complaint. With the help of the CFPB the airman was able to have his request reviewed once again, and the second time around it was approved.
This is just one of the many complaints the CFPB reviews and helps to resolve each and every year. The majority of the complaints had to do with mortgages, specifically loan modification and foreclosure problems. This is because military service members are afforded special treatment, especially during times of active duty. Unfortunately, many lenders do not realize this, and they continue to treat military personnel the same as anyone else, even though these individuals are often not in the country for extended periods of time, and can be transferred to a different area of the country on a moment’s notice. When the CFPB started monitoring credit reporting in October 2012, complaints in the category quickly grew to account for 11% of all that were received. The vast majority of these complaints had to do with incorrect information on the credit report (if you have not checked your credit report lately, head over to www.annualcreditreport.com if you find an error you can take it up with the credit reporting agency, or submit a complaint with the CFPB).
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is rapidly gaining popularity as a one-stop government agency where consumers can turn when they feel they have been taken advantage of. The bureau monitors nearly all aspects of the financial world, and they will help to fight the battle on behalf of the consumer. Military personnel give up a lot in order to help protect our country; they deserve to be treated with extra kindness in return. And the CFPB is making sure that while serving our country, they too are being served.