Bureau Takes the Latest Step in Effort to Hold Financial Institutions Accountable to Consumers
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) began accepting consumer complaints about bank accounts, including checking accounts, savings accounts, CDs, and related services.
“Deposit accounts play a critical role in the lives of most Americans, but these products and the laws governing them are complicated,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “Consumers need someone on their side to keep banks and credit unions accountable—that is our job.”
Almost nine out of ten American households have at least one checking account, and many also maintain a savings account. Yet, despite the fact that they are commonplace, bank accounts can be complex and confusing.
Consumers can file a bank account complaint with the CFPB using the Bureau’s website, or by mail, fax, or telephone. The CFPB’s U.S.-based call centers handle calls with little or no wait times, provide services for the hearing- and speech-impaired, and have the ability to assist the public in 187 languages.
The CFPB recently redesigned its website to provide a more seamless customer experience when filing a complaint or checking the status of an existing complaint. In addition, the consumerfinance.gov homepage prominently features the work the Bureau is doing to make the costs and risks of financial products clear to consumers. A new navigation bar makes it easier for all of the site’s visitors – consumers, financial institutions, and others – to access the information and tools available online.
The Bureau expects banks to respond to complaints within 15 days and seeks to close all complaints within 60 days. Consumers are given a tracking number after submitting a complaint. They are then able to log in to the CFPB website at any time and check the status of their case. Each complaint will be processed individually and consumers will have the option to dispute a bank’s resolution.
The CFPB began taking credit card inquiries and complaints when it launched on July 21, 2011. In December, the Bureau began handling complaints on mortgages and other home loans. Today’s announcement represents the third phase of the Bureau’s Consumer Response complaints program.
The Bureau’s Consumer Response team has already received and resolved thousands of complaints on mortgages and credit cards. As of February 22, 2012, the Bureau had received over 20,000 complaints, including nearly 7,000 on mortgages and almost 12,000 on credit cards. The Bureau has seen three major issue areas with respect to credit cards: consumer confusion, third-party fraud, and factual disputes between the consumer and the card issuer. For mortgages, the biggest complaint source has been foreclosures, and the majority of those complaints have been sent to companies for review and response.
On the topic of banking accounts, the Bureau anticipates receiving complaints in five categories:
- Account opening, closing, and management;
- Deposits and withdrawals;
- Using a debit or ATM card;
- Making or receiving payments and sending money to others; and
- Problems related to low account funds.
Consumers with complaints on bank accounts, credit cards, and mortgages should contact the Bureau at ConsumerFinance.gov or call 1-855-411-CFPB.
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The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a 21st century agency that helps consumer finance markets work by making rules more effective, by consistently and fairly enforcing those rules, and by empowering consumers to take more control over their economic lives. For more information, visit www.consumerfinance.gov.