If you have a credit card, a deposit account, or a loan, at some point in your life you may have an issue with a lender, financial institution, or credit card company. Sometimes the company is liable and sometimes you are, but regardless of who’s ultimately responsible, the process of pursuing a resolution could test the patience of a saint.
Although dealing with these issues is often frustrating, it is important that you keep your cool and systematically work with customer service to resolve your complaint. Usually, your financial institution can resolve your issue, but when they can't your next step will likely be to contact a government agency.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, also known as the CFPB, was established by Congress to protect consumers by carrying out Federal consumer financial laws. One of their duties is to take consumer complaints on financial products and help the parties reach a resolution. To file a complaint on a bank, a credit union, or a nonbank financial institution call the CFPB at (855) 411-2372 or go to: www.consumerfinance.gov/complaint.
You may also submit complaints against a credit union or bank to the state or federal government agency that supervises them. Call your bank or credit union to find out whether they have a state or national charter. If they are state chartered, ask them which state—you will need to know that to submit a complaint to their state supervisor.
The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) takes complaints against any credit union, whether state or nationally chartered at (800) 755-1030 or www.mycreditunion.gov. For a state chartered credit union, you may also submit your complaint to the state credit union in the state where they are chartered. You can find a list of state credit union regulators here: http://cuna.org/gov_affairs/state_affairs/regulators.html.
To submit a complaint against a national bank, contact the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency at (800) 613-6743 or www.helpwithmybank.gov. Not all nationally chartered banks are large, but all of the largest banks are nationally chartered.
If your complaint is against a state bank, you may submit your complaint with the banking department of the state where it is chartered. You can find a directory of state banking departments at hwww.csbs.org/about/what/pages/directory. aspx. The Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) each supervise some state banks. To submit a complaint to the Federal Reserve, call (888) 851-1920 or go to: www.federal reserveconsumerhelp.gov. To submit a complaint to the FDIC, call (877) 275-3342 or go to: www2.fdic.gov/starsmail/index.asp.
If you can’t figure out whether your bank has a state or national charter, submit your complaint to the CFPB or Federal Reserve, they will help you identify the appropriate federal banking regulator and refer you complaint to that agency.
For financial products complaints that don’t involve banks or credit unions, you may contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at (877)382-4357 or www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov. The FTC, the nation's consumer protection agency, collects complaints about companies, business practices, and identity theft. You may also submit complaints about businesses, including financial products, to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), a non-governmental entity, at www.bbb.org or call your local BBB.
If you think your complaint involves financial fraud or crime, immediately contact local law enforcement. You may also contact the Attorney General of your state. If the incident happened in another state, find that state’s Attorneys General here: http://www.naag.org/current-attorneys-general.php.
There are limits to what these agencies can do. They are unable to resolve contract disputes or undocumented factual disputes between a customer and a bank. In these cases, you need to contact an attorney. They cannot investigate matters that are the subject of a pending lawsuit. Additionally, they are unable to resolve complaints about customer service or disagreements over specific policies and procedures not addressed by state or federal law or regulation.
Although complaints can’t be completely avoided, prevention is best accomplished through knowledge. Before you open an account, take out a loan, or apply for credit, make sure you understand it. If you don’t understand it, obtain consumer assistance before you sign on the dotted line.
This information is provided with the understanding that the association is not engaged in rendering specific legal, accounting, or other professional services. If specific expert assistance is required, the services of a competent, professional person should be sought.
Provided as a public service by the Pennsylvania Association of Community Bankers.
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