Got a Complaint About Your Bank? The New Consumer Czar Wants to Know

The CFPB will now try to resolve consumer complaints about banking accounts.


Do you ever feel like your monthly checking account statement or online banking record is harder to decode than the Rosetta Stone?

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau hopes to change that and announced Thursday that it would begin accepting consumer complaints about bank accounts, including checking accounts, savings accounts, and certificates of deposit.

The announcement comes after Bank of America said it is considering levying a monthly fee for many customers with basic checking accounts and previous moves by the consumer protection agency to expand its reach in the financial services realm.

About 90 percent of Americans have at least one checking account, according to the CFPB, so further plans to keep banks accountable to their customers is a huge deal, CFPB Director Richard Cordray said in a statement.

"Deposit accounts play a critical role in the lives of most Americans, but these products and the laws governing them are complicated," he said. "Consumers need someone on their side to keep banks and credit unions accountable—that is our job at the Consumer Bureau."

[Read: Deja Vu? Bank of America Plans Fee Changes.]

Besides addressing the fee issue, the bureau also hopes to tackle complaints about deposits and withdrawals, use of debit or ATM cards, payments, and problems related to low account balances.

The bureau has already received more than 20,000 complaints pertaining to mortgages and credit cards, and expects more to flood in now that its focus has expanded to include banking accounts. Top complaints from consumers about credit cards have been confusing statements and policies, third-party fraud, and factual disputes between the customer and card issuer. On the mortgage finance side, the biggest complaints have had to do with foreclosure practices.

Consumers with bones to pick with their banks can file a complaint using the CFPB's website or by mail, fax, or phone. Banks are expected to respond to complaints within 15 days and consumers should have their cases resolved within 60 days.

To keep tabs on progress, the CFPB will give consumers a tracking number, which they can use to log in and check the status of their case. Each case will be processed individually and consumers have the option to dispute a bank's resolution.

For more information or to file a complaint, check out the CFPB website.

Twitter: @mmhandley