Filing a Consumer Complaint About a Bank
If you have a complaint about a bank or other financial institution, the Federal Reserve System might be able to help you. The Federal Reserve is responsible for carrying out many of the federal laws that protect consumers in their dealings with financial institutions. The Board of Governors, located in Washington, D.C., works with the twelve Federal Reserve Banks around the country to make certain the commercial banks that the Federal Reserve supervises abide by these laws. The Federal Reserve can help individual consumers by:
- Answering questions about banking practices, and
- Investigating complaints about specific banks under the Reserve's supervisory jurisdiction. Complaints about financial institutions that are not supervised by the Federal Reserve System are referred to the appropriate federal agency.
What Kinds of Complaints are Investigated?
As a federal regulatory agency, the Federal Reserve System investigates consumer complaints received against state chartered banks that are members of the System. If you think a bank has been unfair or deceptive in its dealings with you, or has violated a law or regulation, as a consumer you have the right to file a complaint.
The Federal Reserve is particularly concerned that state member banks comply with federal laws and regulations that prohibit discrimination in lending. In such cases, additional steps are taken to ensure that your complaint is promptly and thoroughly investigated. In addition, complaints alleging discrimination in housing that are covered by the Fair Housing Act are referred to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
How to File a Complaint
Before writing or calling the Federal Reserve, consumers are encouraged to try to settle the problem with the financial institution first. This may involve directly contacting senior bank management or the bank's customer service representative for assistance. If you are still unable to resolve the problem, you may file a written complaint with the Federal Reserve including the following information:
- Your name, address and daytime telephone number, including area code;
- Name and address of the bank involved in your complaint or inquiry;
- Your bank or credit card account number;
- The name of the person you contacted at the bank, along with the date, if applicable;
- Description of the complaint. State what happened, giving the dates involved and the names of those you dealt with at the bank. Include copies of any letters or other documents that may help the Federal Reserve to investigate your complaint. Please do not send original documents, copies are preferred; and remember to sign and date your letter.
It's important to give the Federal Reserve as much information about the problem as possible; this will assist the Federal Reserve in providing a quicker response to you.
Where to Send Complaints
Send your complaint to:
Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
Division of Consumer and Community Affairs
20th and C Streets, N.W., Stop 801
Washington, DC 20551
For more information, see the Federal Reserve's primers on how to file a complaint about a bank, or call (202) 452-3693.
What Will the Federal Reserve Do?
Consumer complaints filed against state member banks are investigated by the 12 regional Federal Reserve Banks. Once received, your complaint will be reviewed by the consumer affairs staff who will contact the bank about your concern. The Reserve Bank will investigate each issue raised in your letter and ask the bank involved for information and records in response to your complaint. If additional information is needed, the Reserve Bank will contact you by telephone or in writing. The Reserve Bank will analyze the bank's response to your complaint to ensure that your concerns have been addressed and will send a letter to you about their findings. If the investigation reveals that a federal law or regulation has been violated, the Reserve Bank will inform you of the violation and the corrective action the bank has been directed to take.