When you run into a problem with your bank, it can be difficult to resolve it efficiently.
But if you're having issues, you might not be the only one. By filing a complaint, you can help to ensure that others aren't unfairly treated by your financial institution.
When you file a complaint against your bank, you can escalate the issue to a regulatory organization. However, the bank complaint process is often less than straightforward, with several organizations involved.
Here’s the step-by-step process you’ll need to follow to file a complaint against your bank (and more importantly, get the resolution you need).
Ready to switch banks? Compare your best options here >>>
What To Do Before You Make A Bank Complaint
If you run into an issue with your bank, try talking to them directly. Although it's tempting to jump straight into the complaint process, the problem you're dealing with may have been an honest mistake on your bank’s behalf.
With that, start by giving your bank the benefit of the doubt. Take the time to contact and work with the customer service team to resolve your issue. If you're able to make contact with someone, then take notes along the way.
Record the details of the conversation, who you talked to, and the timing. If you're communicating via written documents, such as a chatbox or email, then keep a copy of the conversation for your records.
In the best-case scenario, you'll be able to reach a resolution with your bank to put the issue to rest. But if you can't, it's time to file a complaint.
How To File A Complaint Against Your Bank
If the bank hasn't been helpful and the issue is serious enough in your eyes for a formal complaint, you'll want to write down the incident in detail. You should include the type of product you're complaining about, the issue at hand, and any people that were involved.
What's considered serious enough? Well, for most people, this will involved money being frozen, money being lost, money being stolen (perhaps due to a bank employee's mistake or negligence), or other account issues that's prohibiting you from accessing your money.
If possible, gather supporting documentation. This might include your notes on the interactions you’ve had with the bank or statements that point to the problem.
Once you know what you want to say in your complaint, you can move on to deciding where to submit it. There are a few places that you can file a complaint against your bank.
Pro Tip: When you file a complaint, banks have high-level teams that have to both resolve the issue and file the appropriate response with regulators. Complaints are taken very seriously and are usually addressed very quicky.
Here are three of the most common options:
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) allows you to submit a complaint about a banking product through their online form. If you have your information ready, it should only take a few minutes to submit your complaint formally.
After you submit the complaint, the company in question will have up to 60 days to respond to your complaint. But, in most cases, you’ll receive a response within 15 days.
Once you have the response, you can choose to respond back within 60 days. The complaint will be closed after you make your final response.
Office Of The Comptroller Of The Currency
The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) is another government bureau that accept banking complaints. Before you try to file a complaint against your bank here, take a minute to ensure that the bank is actually regulated by the bureau.
Luckily, the OCC has a quick tool to help you determine the answer. Plus, it will point you in the right direction if your bank isn't regulated by the OCC.
If you find your bank on the OCC site, you can file a complaint within 30 minutes through an online form. With the complaint in hand, the OCC will investigate the issue. The organization will send you the result of their inquiry within 60 days
The Federal Reserve
The Federal Reserve is another place in which you can make a formal complaint against your bank. Like with the other options above, you'll be able to submit your complaint through an online form. You can also use a physically-mailed questionnaire.
Regardless of how the bank complaint is submitted, the Federal Reserve will investigate. You’ll receive information about the findings within 60 days of filing.
What To Do After You Make A Bank Complaint
The process of submitting a complaint shouldn’t take too long. But it may take days or weeks for your issue to be resolved. However, we've found in practice that many issues are resolved within a few days.
While you wait to hear the results of your complaint investigation, you may want to look for a different bank. It can be a challenge to continue banking with a financial institution when you know you disagree with its business practices.
By switching to a top-rated bank, you may be able to obtain lower fees, a higher interest rate on deposits, better customer service, or all of the above. Check out our list of the best online banks ready to help you today.
Like any other companies, banks can make accidental mistakes. And, in these cases, a simple phone call or visit to your local branch may resolve the issue.
But if your bank has engaged in deceptive, misleading, or illegal practices, you need to file a complaint to protect other consumers. And then you need to move on to a bank that's better able to serve your needs. Compare your banking options here >>>
Robert Farrington is America’s Millennial Money Expert® and America’s Student Loan Debt Expert™, and the founder of The College Investor, a personal finance site dedicated to helping millennials escape student loan debt to start investing and building wealth for the future. You can learn more about him on the About Page, or on his personal site RobertFarrington.com.
He regularly writes about investing, student loan debt, and general personal finance topics geared towards anyone wanting to earn more, get out of debt, and start building wealth for the future.
He has been quoted in major publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox, ABC, NBC, and more. He is also a regular contributor to Forbes.