Customers who use app-based banking services provider Chime are complaining about the company at a high rate, according to a recently published report by nonprofit newsroom ProPublica.
Since April 15, 2020, Chime customers have filed 920 complaints with the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), ProPublica reports. Many of the grievances focus on difficulties accessing money or accounts, or criticism that Chime does not resolve problems quickly.
In commenting on the volume of complaints, Lauren Saunders of the National Consumer Law Center tells ProPublica, “For a company that most people have never heard of, I think that’s a lot of complaints.”
ProPublica notes that of the 920 CFPB complaints about Chime, 197 were tagged as involving a “closed account.” By comparison, Wells Fargo — which has six times as many customers as Chime — has had 317 CFPB complaints about closed accounts over the same time period.
Complaints against Chime also are piling up at the Better Business Bureau. Customers have filed 4,439 complaints against Chime with the BBB, compared with 3,281 for Wells Fargo, ProPublica says.
For its part, Chime told ProPublica that many of the customer complaints are related to a company crackdown on accounts that use fraudulently obtained unemployment insurance or federal stimulus payments.
In a statement to ProPublica, Chime spokesperson Gabe Madway said that over the past year, there has been “an extraordinary surge in activity by those seeking to illicitly obtain pandemic-related government funds and defraud U.S. taxpayers.”
Madway goes on to say:
“We are proud of Chime’s robust anti-fraud efforts, which have returned hundreds of millions of dollars to state and federal agencies during the pandemic. While it’s important for us to fight fraud, our top focus will always be to take care of our members. And despite our best efforts, we do make mistakes.”
ProPublica says Chime’s services have become increasingly popular with consumers. Between 2013 and 2020, Chime grew to 8 million customers, then saw 4 million more come aboard last year alone, ProPublica reports, citing figures from Cornerstone Advisors.
Most of the CFPB complaints have been “closed with explanation,” which means Chime has resolved the dispute privately with the customer, ProPublica says. On the BBB’s website, Chime says that it “takes these issues seriously” and that its “top priority is protecting its members,” according to ProPublica.
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