CFPB Monthly Snapshot Highlights Complaints from Older Consumers

On Wednesday, May 31, 2017, the CFPB released its monthly complaint report highlighting complaints submitted by older consumers. The snapshot shows older consumers frequently report servicing problems with reverse mortgages, difficulties recovering money after financial scams, confusion around deferred interest credit cards, and charges for unauthorized add-on products. The snapshot provides an overview and analysis of more than 103,100 complaints submitted to the Bureau by consumers voluntarily reporting their age as 62 or older.


Older Consumer Complaint Issues
With more than 10,000 Americans turning 62 every day, older consumers are one of the fastest growing consumer groups in the marketplace. While older consumers are living longer and healthier lives than ever before, a growing number face financial exploitation, struggles with debt, and entering retirement with limited savings. The findings below highlight issues that, while relevant to consumers of all ages, are seen more frequently in complaints submitted in 2017 by older consumers: 


  • Servicing problems with reverse mortgages: Reverse mortgages, exclusively available to people over 62 years of age, are a special type of loan that allows people to borrow against the equity in their homes. Older consumers with reverse mortgages seeking to stay in their house following the death of the borrowing spouse report servicing problems that sometimes result in foreclosure proceedings. A 2015 report published by the Bureau examines consumer frustrations surrounding reverse mortgages. 
  • Difficulty recovering from financial scams: Older consumers are often the target of financial scams and identity theft. Older consumers working to recover from scams or exploitation have complained about difficulty with correcting credit reports, disputing charges with credit card companies, and attempting to regain money that was withdrawn from their bank accounts.   
  • Confusion about deferred interest and zero interest credit card offers: Some older consumers on fixed incomes use credit cards to pay for unanticipated large expenses, such as medical needs. Consumers complain about confusion understanding credit card terms and conditions. One particular example highlighted in the report are complaints from older consumers about struggles to understand the distinction between deferred interest and zero interest offers. 
  • Fees charged for unwanted add-on products and services: Some older consumers complain about being charged for items such as credit monitoring services they did not sign up for. Some of these consumers also complained that they were enrolled in these types of programs without proper disclosure of the program and its costs.