Spending was up at consumer bureau in 2020 – so were complaints about credit, consumer reporting

Spending was up more than 9% by the federal consumer financial protection agency in the last fiscal year, to $558.5 million, according to the agency’s fall 2020 semiannual report issued Jan. 21.

The report also indicated that credit or consumer reporting remain the most complained-about products by consumers, making up more than half (54%) of all complaints received by the agency in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, 2020.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) said its total spending of $558.5 million in FY 2020 was dominated by employee compensation and benefits of $323 million for the agency’s 1,504 workers (the pay and benefits account for 58% of agency expenses). The pay to employees was up 7.9% from the previous year, with 74 employees added to the payroll during the year.

Travel was down significantly for the agency in 2020 from 2019 (likely a result of the coronavirus crisis), with the agency spending on travel in 2020 (at $5.8 million) about a third of 2019 outlays.

But there were considerable increases in other areas, notably: land and structures (about three times was it was a year before, at $15.5 million), and “contractual services,” up more than $15 million in 2020 from 2019 (at $160.9 million).

On the complaint front, those about credit and consumer reporting led the group as they did the previous year – but represented a bigger share of the total. In 2020, the credit/consumer reporting complaints accounted for 54%, compared to 43% in 2019.

Rounding out the top five were: debt collection (17% of all complaints, compared to 22% in 2019); credit cards (7% in 2020, 8% in 2019); checking or savings (6% compared to 8%); and mortgages (6% compared to 8%).

CFPB Semi-Annual Report Fall 2020