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Dan Ray

Got a credit card gripe? Complain: You're likely to get money back

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued its first anniversary report to Congress and the White House on how it's doing as the consumer's money maven.

As you might expect, the agency says it's doing quite well in its mission to prevent unfair and deceptive practices by financial institutions. Its critics disagree, but for today we'll put that argument aside.

The data accompanying its 83-page report contains some more-immediate good news for credit card holders: Use its new complaint system and you have a good chance of getting some money back.

The agency forwarded 44,600 complaints to financial companies in its first year of operation, which began July 21, 2011. Of those, 15,600 were complaints about credit cards, and nearly half of those who complained got money back. The median amount of relief (based on a smaller sample): $144.

Of all the financial products the bureau oversees, the odds of getting money back on a credit card complaint were greatest. Those complaining about mortgages had only about a one in 10 shot at getting compensation, although the relief was bigger, with a median of $411.

Here's a closer look:

HOW FINANCIAL COMPANIES HAVE RESPONDED TO CONSUMER COMPLAINTS
Number of complaints
All (N≈44,600)
Credit Card (N≈15,600)
Mortgage (N≈20,200)
Bank account and service (N≈6,400)
Student loan (N≈1,400)
Consumer loan (N≈800)
Company reported closed with monetary relief
26%
47%
9%
32%
6%
19%
Company reported closed with nonmonetary relief
3%
2%
5%
2%
3%
5%
Company reported closed with explanation
55%
42%
66%
48%
60%
57%
Company reported closed without relief or explanation
1%
0.2%
1%
1%
0.5%%
1%
Company provided administrative response
3%
2%
4%
3%
1%
1%
Company reviewing
13%
7%
16%
14%
29%
16%
Source: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau analysis of consumer complaints it fielded. The bureau collected credit card and mortgage complaints before it took on other financial products, so don't draw any conclusions about the relative volume of complaints.

Want to file a complaint? Go to http://www.consumerfinance.gov/complaint/

One cautionary note: Six months ago, in the bureau's initial report, it said credit card issuers were being even more generous in giving money to credit card holders who complained: 64 percent of them got some relief. 

See related: Your consumer watchdog and what it can do, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau turns 1

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