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CFPB gets 17,800 bank complaints

By Marcie Geffner · Bankrate.com
Friday, January 10, 2014
Posted: 6 am ET

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau received 122,000 consumer complaints during the most recent reporting period from July 1, 2012, to June 30, 2013, according to a new report from the federal government agency.

Approximately 17,800, or not quite 15 percent, of those complaints were related to bank accounts or bank services.

Of that slice, the largest share, or 41 percent, involved opening, closing or managing a bank account. This category included such issues as account maintenance fees, legal processing fees for judgments and levies, changes in account terms, confusing marketing, early withdrawal penalties for certificates of deposit and involuntary account closures, the report stated.

Complaints about availability of deposits, withdrawal problems or penalties, unauthorized transactions, check cashing, payroll deposit problems, lost or missing funds or transaction holds made up 17 percent of the bank-related complaints.

Problems related to overdraft or late fees, bounced checks or credit reporting accounted for 15 percent of the bank-related complaints.

Issues involving payments by check, card, phone or online, unauthorized or fraudulent transactions, or money/wire transfers accounted for 11 percent of the bank complaints.

The remainder of the complaints, about 6 percent, involved debit cards or ATM cards, including disputed transactions, unauthorized card use, ATM or debit card fees or other ATM problems.

Many consumers were frustrated by companies' handling of error disputes, requests to stop payment on preauthorized electronic debits and the wide discretion companies have to charge overdraft fees and manipulate the order in which deposits and withdrawals are posted to consumers' accounts, the CFPB report said.

Slightly more than half of the total complaints were submitted through the CFPB's consumer complaint website. Another 28 percent were referred to the CFPB from other agencies; 8 percent came via a telephone call, and the rest were submitted by mail, email or fax.

The CFPB collects and investigates consumer complaints and brings those complaints to the involved companies' attention for a response. This activity started with complaints about credit cards in July 2011 and later expanded to encompass complaints about mortgages, bank accounts and services, private student loans, other consumer loans, credit reporting, money transfers, debt collection and payday loans.

Information about the complaints can be found in the CFPB public consumer complaint database, which was launched in June 2012. A complaint is listed only after the company responds, confirming a commercial relationship with the consumer, or after 15 days elapse with no response.

The database is live, updates nightly and includes the type of complaint, submission date, consumer's ZIP code and company name as well as how the company responded, whether the response was timely and whether the consumer disputed the response. Confidential information about consumers' identities isn't included in the publicly accessible data.

Follow me on Twitter: @marciegeff.

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