What do people have the most issues with when it comes to credit cards? The results may surprise you. While billing issues and interest rates are obviously a sticking point when it comes to dealing with your credit card lender, most of the top five complaints from consumers revolve around issues that seem a little less expected.
According to data we pulled from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, over the past two years (Nov. 30, 2011 until Sept. 10, 2013) there have been over 25,000 complaints registered with the bureau about various credit card companies. While the complaints vary widely, from balance transfer complaints to application processing delay complaints, below are the five areas that scored the most complaints in the past 2 years:
Billing Disputes: 16 percent
APR or Interest Rate: 10 percent
Identity Theft/Fraud: 7 percent
Closing/Canceling Account: 7 percent
Credit Reporting: 6 percent
It is no surprise that billing disputes is at the top of the range, but most of the other complaints we weren't expecting to rate so high. Some complaint categories that we expected to be in the top five -- including Customer Service, Late and Overlimit Fees, and Privacy -- ranked very low, while issues with interest rates and consumers closing their accounts seem to cause more issues.
The two biggest surprises were the high number of complaints about identity theft and credit reporting. While credit card companies have control over their billing practices, interest rates and canceling accounts, they have little to do with identity theft or credit reporting. If you have issues with credit reporting or identity theft, here are some helpful hints on what to do.
How to Report Identity Theft
Identity theft is a crime, pure and simple. Contacting your credit card company or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to report identity theft is not going to solve things, although you should contact your credit card company and alert them that your card information has been stolen. However, before you even do that, you need to contact the authorities and let them know that you have been a victim of identity theft. The police will fill out a report that you can use to properly file paperwork with your credit card lenders and other accounts that may have been compromised. That report is the key to restoring your identity, so make sure the first phone call you make is to your local police.
If you are looking to protect yourself before you are a victim of identity theft, here are some tips on how to avoid identity theft.
How to Correct Errors on Your Credit Report
If you have an error on your credit report, even if it is the fault of your credit card company, the best thing to do is contact the three credit bureaus -- Experian, TransUnion and Equifax -- to correct those errors. Each of the bureaus has a website that includes information on how to contest errors on your credit report. Each bureau has 30 days from the time you submit your report to investigate the error and correct it if it needs to be corrected. If you don't want to go through the effort yourself, some credit report monitoring services will help you file the paperwork, and credit repair agencies will do all the work for you, although that can be expensive.
Regardless, it is a good idea to always monitor your credit report to make sure that there are no errors on it. You can either apply for your yearly credit report, or sign up for a credit report monitoring service, which will update you more frequently on your credit report and score.