smart spending

Consumer complaint No. 3: Banks and lending

5 of the most common consumer gripes
Banks and lending

Ticked off at your bank in 2011? Join the club. The Federal Trade Commission received 89,341 complaints about banks and lending in 2011, or 5 percent of all consumer complaints.

Consumers griped about bank account issues, such as fees and overdraft charges; problems with customer service; deceptive or predatory mortgage lending practices; and problems with the modification of mortgage terms.

Big banks and mortgage lenders were lightning rods in this category. Last year, almost a third of consumers who filed banking and lending complaints had a problem with a national or commercial bank, while nearly a third griped about mortgage lending.

To head off potential complaints, read all account brochures and consumer literature provided by the bank or lender, including information about fees and requirements.

"All of that is in disclosures, and a lot of customers don't read it until it's too late," says Michael Beird, director of the banking services practice at J.D. Power and Associates.

If you do have an issue, reach out to your bank or lender, recommends Beird, whose firm just released a study on consumers switching banks over fees.

If that doesn't work, file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Consumers receive a tracking number after submitting a complaint to check its status on the CFPB website.



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