Information on resolving consumer complaints
I f you have a credit card, 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. Your financial institution can usually resolve your issue, but when it can’t, your next step will likely be to contact a government agency.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) was established by Congress to protect consumers by carrying out federal consumer financial laws. One of its duties is to handle consumer complaints about financial products and help the parties reach a resolution. To file a complaint about a bank, credit union or non-bank financial institution, call the CFPB at 855-411-2372 or visit www.consumerfinance.gov/complaint.
You may also submit complaints against a credit union or bank to the state or federal government agency that supervises the institution. Call your bank or credit union to find out if it has a state or national charter. If it is state chartered, ask which state—you will need to know this to submit a complaint to the state supervisor.
Contact the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) with complaints against any credit union, state or nationally chartered, at (800) 755- 1030 or visit www.mycreditunion.gov. For a state-chartered credit union, you may also submit a complaint to the appropriate state credit union. You can find a list of state credit union regulators online. 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 Texas-chartered state bank, submit it to the Texas Department of Banking at 877-76-5554 or visit its website. You can find a directory of banking departments from other states online. 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 visit www.federalreserveconsumerhelp.gov. To submit a complaint to the FDIC, call 877-275-3342 or visit its website.
If you can’t figure out if your bank has a state or national charter, submit your complaint to the CFPB or Federal Reserve. These organizations will help you identify the appropriate federal banking regulator and will then refer your complaint to that agency. For financial product 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 is the nation’s consumer protection agency, and it accepts complaints about companies, business practices and identity theft. You may also submit complaints about businesses, including those that provide financial products, to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), a non-governmental entity, by calling your local BBB or visiting www.bbb.org.
If you think your complaint involves financial fraud or crime, immediately contact local law enforcement. You may also contact the Texas Attorney General at 800-621-0508 or www.oag.state. tx.us/consumer/complain.shtml. If the incident occurs in another state, contact that state’s attorney general.
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. Agencies cannot investigate matters that are the subject of a pending lawsuit. Additionally, they are unable to resolve complaints about customer service or disagreements regarding 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 the process and guidelines. If you don’t fully understand, seek consumer assistance before you sign on the dotted line. Compiled by Shannon Phillips, deputy general counsel, and provided as a public service by the Independent Bankers Association of Texas (IBAT) and the IBAT Education Foundation. This article is not intended as legal advice with the understanding that the association is not engaged in rendering specific legal, accounting or other professional services. Each state has specific laws governing the creation and use of a power of attorney. If specific expert assistance is required, the services of a competent, professional person should be sought.