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Complaints pile up at big banks

By David McMillin ·
Monday, September 23, 2013
Posted: 6 pm ET

Frustrated with your bank? You're not alone. According to a new analysis from the Public Interest Research Group in Michigan, or PIRGIM, consumers logged more than 19,000 complaints about bank accounts and banking services in the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's online database from March 2012 to July 2013.

Eric S. Mosher, program associate of the PIRGIM Education Fund, says the database is more than a place where angry consumers can highlight their frustrations. It also can serve as a guide for consumers who are comparing banks to understand which institutions are delivering the best and worst service.

"Thanks to the CFPB's complaints database, consumers who get misled or exploited by their banks can make their voices heard and get satisfaction," Mosher says. "Other consumers can view the public database and make smarter, more informed financial choices."

If consumers heed Mosher's advice, some of the biggest banks in the country are bound to start missing out on acquiring new customers. Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and JPMorgan Chase & Co. were the three most frequently cited members of the banking industry in the database. But to be fair, PIRGIM adjusted the report to showcase another picture: the ratio of complaints to the amount of cash deposited in the institution. When adjusted, the usual suspects are replaced by a clear frontrunner. Minnesota-based TCF Bank has a whopping 24.9 complaints per $1 billion in deposits.

So what has all these people upset? In most cases, these complaints are tied to their checking accounts. With nearly 15,000 complaints about checking programs, consumers filed reports about problems with opening, closing and managing their accounts; challenges with overdrafts; and a range of other issues.

Does filing a report actually do anything? In plenty of cases, it turns out that the answer is yes. More than 25 percent of complaints processed by the CFPB ended with consumers receiving some kind of monetary settlement from the bank. Those settlements aren't small, either: The average amount was $110.

While the database seems to be helping consumers, Mosher and PIRGIM are urging the CFPB to make the database even easier to use, with more data and mobile applications that would allow account holders to report problems via their smartphones.

Have you ever filed a complaint against your bank with the CFPB? Was it resolved quickly?

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hari berg
April 28, 2014 at 8:04 pm

to the best of my recollection some years ago I had an account with wells fargo what happened was I wrote a check for about 500.00 when in fact I only had around 450.00 in the account that was my fault. what I do remember that wells fargo charged me a 35.00 PER DAY until I sorted this out(even though they had not paid out the check . I only found that out when I received a notice of default days after the bank had cleaned out my acc with this bogus rip off when I spoke to the manger I was told they can legally do so
needless to say I would never put foot in one of their banks
nor would I accept a check from them to me they are the very worst bank

March 07, 2014 at 6:19 pm

From reports of bank CD rates, I called GE Capital
Bank at 855 730 7283 to apply for a 5 year CD at 2.05% interest. After the agent took my personal information she told me she would have to submit it to the back office for approval and I needed to call back in a few days.
I have always been able to open an account, get an account number and an address to mail a deposit at other online banks, so this threw me.
I called back the next day, and received no new information.
I accused them of phishing for personal information with no intention of opening an account. and I believe this to be true.

February 19, 2014 at 8:53 pm

I have had a BAnk of the West account for over 30 years and never, not once, have I ever had a problem.

Justa D
October 07, 2013 at 1:01 pm

In the collection world, it seems that some banks are making progress, but many banks will continue to get complaints.

Amazing to hear high level execs still tell us, "all we care about are liquidations", when presented with really unique programs for helping customers resolve their past due.

Time will tell.

Jeff Steinbeck
September 24, 2013 at 1:08 am

I've never had a problem, or any serious problem with Wells Fargo...Look at the services that they're providing to you...
1. Numerous ATM's all over the country, all over the world
2. Convenience of ATM-debit cards...You don't have to walk around with any cash.
You get free checking accounts, on-line services...stop payments.
If you have enough cash in your acct, you can get free travelers checks...
This article is BS...this country without B of A, Wells Fargo...the banking system would be worse.