Consumer bureau asks for payday loan complaints

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) wants Americans to let it know about problems they have with payday lenders.

The young watchdog agency will start accepting comments from the public when they feel that they have been abused or mistreated when taking out a payday loan. It asks companies respond to those complaints within 15 days, describing the steps they will take to fix the problem.

Accepting public comments about the lenders amounts to a new step for the agency’s oversight of the loans, which offer quick cash but sometimes come at a high fee.

Payday loans, which tend to come in small amounts, are often used to bridge the gap from paycheck to paycheck. Payment is usually due quickly after the loan is paid out, but people sometimes roll them over to borrow additional money.

The CFPB has slowly ramped up its oversight of payday lenders since it started its supervision last January. In April, it issued a report showing that some people get trapped in a cycle of borrowing to pay off their debt after each paycheck.

“Before the Consumer Bureau, consumers who had trouble with payday lending products had few places to turn,” CFPB Director Richard Cordray said in a statement. “By accepting consumer complaints about payday loans, we will be giving people a greater voice in this market.”

The agency wants people to complain when they have problems contacting their lender, are incorrectly charged, get loans they never asked for or when unexpected fees or interest are tacked on.

Complaints can be registered through the CFPB’s website, by mail or over the phone.