How to File a Complaint Against Your Bank

If you’re charged improperly, an amount or a charge is imposed on your account, and you might get angry and frustrated with your banking institution. If you’re not getting your voice taken seriously or treated with respect, It could be the right time to file a complaint. Be assured that your actions will benefit more than you.

“If multiple people complain about the same issue, hopefully, you get a systemic solution,” says Christina Tetreault, manager of financial policy at Consumer Reports, a non-profit committed to research and advocacy for consumers.

“Complaints can lead to enforcement actions” against banks as well as “point the way for advocates like me… [to] understand what consumer issues are out there,” Tetreault states.

Here are the four methods to submit a complaint with your bank and the information you need to learn.

Four Methods to File a complaint against your Bank

Use your bank

If you encounter a problem for the first time, you should contact your bank’s customer support team. If you cannot get someone, try contacting them via various methods, including via phone or online-based messaging. Keep any messages written down and information from calls because you might require them in the future.

“Take detailed notes,” Tetreault advises. “When did you contact [or message to whom did you speak to and what were you saying, and what did they say? ?”

Find out where you can complain.

If you’re not getting any response from your bank after several hours and days of trying, it’s the right time to file an official complaint. Your goal is to force your bank to do something and take action, so you should choose an agency from the government or a company that will connect to your banking institution.

An excellent place to start is to submit a complaint to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The Federal Bureau has an online submission system that is simple and easy and lets you monitor the complaint and get notifications via email. It is also possible to contact the CFPB by email or telephone.

If a different government entity, like the authority for a community credit union or bank, is better equipped to assist you and assist you, the CFPB sends your request to them. The CFPB also publishes complaints on a public database free of personal information and uses this information to enforce more efficient rules and regulations.

Write your complaint

This is your best chance to receive assistance, so be as precise as possible. Find helpful documents, like billing statements or correspondence sent by the business. You should attach the documents to your complaint letter if you’ve got digital versions.

The CFPB offers five questions that can help you to structure your complaint:

  • “What is the complaint about?” What kind of service or product did you use? Was it one of your checking accounts, a credit card, or a credit report?
  • “What type of problem are you having?” Did you have trouble opening, managing, or closing your account?
  • “What happened?” Define what a fair resolution could be. Include dates, dollars, and other actions you and the bank performed.
  • “What company is the complaint about?” The CFPB regulates various financial firms, including banks and lenders, credit unions, financial technology companies, etc.
  • “Who are the people involved?” Was the incident affecting only you, or did it affect others?

If you require more assistance, refer to the template complaint letters.

Send your complaint in, and then wait.

However urgent your problem could be, you won’t get a response promptly. The CFPB states that the standard period will be 15 business days to receive all companies responding to complaints. However, some companies might take up to 60 days. After a company has responded that it has answered, you will have 60 days to provide your feedback to end the exchange.

What else can you do?

You can also file additional complaints. You can generally submit one complaint per bank per issue through the CFPB. However, there are other websites like the Better Business Bureau and Twitter to which your bank can respond.

Consider a different bank. Based on the severity of the situation, you can transfer your funds to a more friendly bank. Check out NerdWallet’s guide on changing banks.

What you can’t do

As much as you want to, you can’t sue your bank.

Arbitration clauses are an important reason that class-action lawsuits are not feasible. The possibilities for “legal actions are likely limited by the fine print in most customer contracts with banks,” states Mike Litt, consumer campaign director at U.S. PIRG. This public interest organization focuses on advocacy for consumers in health, finance, and other fields.

“Small claims court may be an option,” Litt says, “but it may be best to consult a consumer attorney.”

Most frequently asked questions.

Can I complain with a bank online but not in person?

If you’re not in a vital internet area, you can contact the CFPB can let you write or call them to file your complaint. Visit the contact page of the agency.

Can the CFPB take care of every bank-related complaint?

The CFPB is primarily responsible for complaints of large financial institutions, especially ones with more than $10 billion in assets, and forwards other issues to the appropriate agency. If your bank is less than $10 billion and you’d prefer to stay clear of the CFPB, you can use the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency offers an online tool that will help you find the regulator of your bank. Suppose you are a member of an institution called a credit union, the non-profit version of the bank. In that case, you can use the National Credit Union Administration as an equivalent tool.

If the bank has a lot of complaints, are they evil institutions?

Not necessarily. The mere presence of complaints doesn’t provide a complete account of a bank’s customer experience. Look for patterns if you find grievances in public databases, such as the CFPBs or user reviews. Also, consider the bank’s size or proportion of deposits within the market. A bank that has a lot of complaints could have lots of customers. However, it could also have a lower percentage of deposits than a smaller one.

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