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How to File a Consumer Complaint About a Bank

If you have a complaint about a bank or other financial institution, the Federal Reserve System can help.

The Federal Reserve System is one of five federal banking agencies responsible for administering many of the federal laws that protect consumers in their dealings with financial institutions. The Federal Reserve investigates consumer complaints against banks that are members of the Federal Reserve System (state member banks). The Board of Governors, in Washington, D.C., works with the twelve Federal Reserve Banks across the country to ensure that state member banks abide by the law.

We help consumers by:
  • Identifying the appropriate federal banking regulator and referring complaints to that agency
  • Investigating complaints about state member banks
  • Answering questions about banking practices
  • How to File a Consumer Complaint About a Bank

    What complaints are investigated?

    If you think a bank has been unfair or misleading, discriminated against you in lending, or violated a law or regulation, you have the right to file a complaint. Complaints about discrimination in housing are covered by the Fair Housing Act. These complaints are investigated by the Federal Reserve and referred to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

    How do you file a complaint?

    First, please try to settle the problem directly with your bank. This may involve contacting senior bank management or the bank's customer service representative.

    If you cannot resolve the problem with your bank, you may want to file a complaint with the appropriate federal regulator. If you cannot identify the federal regulator, contact the Federal Reserve Board, and we will forward your complaint to the appropriate agency.

    For complaints about state member banks, you can file a written complaint with the Federal Reserve--either with the Board or with the appropriate Federal Reserve Bank. Please include the following:

  • Your name, address, and daytime telephone number
  • The complete legal name and address of the bank involved in your complaint
  • Your bank or credit card account number, if applicable
  • The names of the people you contacted at the bank, along with the dates
  • A description of the complaint. Tell us what happened, the dates involved, and the names of those you dealt with at the bank. The more information we have about the problem, the quicker we will be able to help resolve it. Include copies of letters or other documents that may help us investigate your complaint. Please send only copies of documents--do not send originals.
  • Please remember to sign and date your letter, and send it to:

    Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
    Division of Consumer and Community Affairs
    20th and C Streets, NW, Stop 801
    Washington, DC 20551
    For more information, please call (202) 452-3693.

    What will the Federal Reserve do?

    Consumer complaints filed against state member banks are investigated by one of the 12 regional Federal Reserve Banks, based upon the location of the bank involved in your complaint. If your complaint is received by the Board and involves a state member bank, Board staff will forward your complaint to the appropriate Reserve Bank for investigation.

    The Reserve Bank may contact you to request additional information about your complaint. As the Reserve Bank investigates each issue raised in your letter, it will --

  • Ask the state member bank involved for information and records regarding your complaint
  • Determine if the bank's response addresses your concerns
  • Send you a letter about its findings
  • The Reserve Bank will let you know if it finds an error or a violation of a federal law or regulation. Investigations usually last 30 to 60 days. If more than 60 days have passed, the Reserve Bank will contact you to let you know the status of the investigation. Please note that it may take several months to resolve complaints alleging illegal credit discrimination.

    Although the Federal Reserve looks into every complaint that involves the banks we regulate, we do not have the authority to resolve every type of problem. For example, we are unable to resolve contract disputes or undocumented factual disputes between a customer and a bank. In these cases, we suggest that you contact an attorney. Also, we cannot investigate matters that are the subject of a pending lawsuit.

    Complaints about customer service or disagreements over specific bank policies and procedures--which are usually determined by the individual bank--are not addressed by federal law or regulation. However, if you file a complaint, a bank may voluntarily work with you to resolve the problem.

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