June 13, 2022

CFPB: New Report Highlights Experience of Military Families with Medical Billing, Credit Reporting, and Debt Collection

Servicemembers and veterans report problems with coercive credit reporting and false medical bill collections

Today, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released its annual report on the top financial concerns facing servicemembers, veterans, and military families, based on the complaints they submitted to the CFPB. Servicemembers told the CFPB about billing inaccuracies and that debt collectors used aggressive tactics to recover allegedly unpaid medical bills. Servicemembers also reported failures by credit reporting companies in helping to resolve inaccuracies and other credit reporting issues.

“Errors on credit reports can jeopardize servicemembers’ financial readiness, and ultimately, their ability to protect our nation,” said CFPB Director Rohit Chopra. “No servicemember, veteran, or military family should be subject to credit reporting rumors and innuendo, nor should they feel coerced to pay a bill they do not owe.”

Servicemembers, veterans, and military families have now submitted more than 250,000 consumer complaints since the CFPB began collecting complaints in 2011. In 2021, they submitted more than 42,000 complaints to the CFPB. The most common types of complaints – more than 60% – were about credit reporting and debt collection.

As described in today’s report, servicemembers may be at particular risk from harm caused by coercive credit reporting tactics, given that negative items on a credit report can jeopardize a military career. As described in the report:

Collecting debts that are not actually owed can violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, and furnishing information about debts that are not owed can violate the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Additionally, federal law requires the nationwide credit reporting companies to conduct a review of certain complaints sent to them by the CFPB and to report their determinations and actions to the CFPB. The nationwide credit reporting companies’ failure to timely and accurately respond to complaints takes a particular toll on servicemembers, veterans, and military families. The CFPB will use its authorities—including supervision and enforcement—to meet its statutory objectives and ensure that military members and their families receive quality responses to their complaints and do not suffer from unfair debt collection or credit reporting practices.

To address the unique concerns of servicemembers and the military community, the CFPB recommends:

Read today’s report, Office of Servicemember Affairs Annual Report, January – December 2021.

Consumers can submit debt collection or credit reporting complaints, or complaints about other financial products or services, by visiting the CFPB’s website or by calling (855) 411-CFPB (2372).

This post was originally published here.