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Consumer gripes about banking issues rise

By Claes Bell ·
Monday, April 4, 2016
Posted: 1 pm ET

The number of checking and savings account holders who filed complaints with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau rose more than 5% last year to 22,400, according to the bureau's annual report released this month.

The bureau says checking accounts were the most complained-about service among all banking services, making up 60% of complaints, followed by "other bank product/service" at 30%, and savings accounts and CDs combining for another 9%.

Banks pay off more disgruntled consumers

Once a complaint is filed, the bureau works with the bank in question to resolve it, and most consumers are usually satisfied enough with the bank's resolution to let the matter go.

The most recent report shows that 64% of consumers who made banking complaints didn't dispute the bank's response. But that's actually down slightly from the year before, when 67% of consumers elected not to dispute.

Types of bank account and service complaints

Account opening, closing, or management (Confusing marketing, denial, disclosure, fees, closure, interest, statements, joint accounts) 42%
Deposits and withdrawals (Availability of deposits, withdrawal problems and penalties, unauthorized transactions, check cashing, payroll deposit problems, lost or missing funds, transaction holds) 26%
Making or receiving payments, sending money to others (Problems with payments by check, card, phone or online, unauthorized or fraudulent transactions, money/wire transfers) 13%
Problems caused by funds being low (Overdraft fees, late fees, bounced checks, credit reporting) 10%
Using a debit or ATM card (Disputed transaction, unauthorized card use, ATM or debit card fees, ATM problems) 9%
Total bank account and service complaints 100%

The financial protection bureau also collects information on what consumers actually get out of making a complaint to the agency, and that information appears to show more consumers getting tangible results out of a complaint.

Of those who filed a complaint about banking services in 2015, 18% got some kind of monetary relief as part of closing out the complaint, nearly double the percentage of consumers who received that kind of outcome in 2014.

The majority of complainants -- 68% -- reportedly got nothing more than an explanation from the bank.

What do you think? Have you ever made a complaint to the CFPB? How did it go?

Follow me on Twitter: @ClaesBell.

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