Have you ever been wrongly charged a banking fee?
Or maybe you have fallen victim to fraudulent charges, and struggled to get the money back in your account?
When these events happen, it’s easy to feel powerless against big banks. But thanks to various consumer financial protection laws in the United States—you don’t have to.
Consumer protection laws can affect each customer and financial institution differently, depending on the circumstances of the case. For this reason, some consumers find it beneficial to hire a qualified attorney in this area of law. This allows you to fully utilize CFPB regulations to maximize your claim.
But even without an attorney, there is a regular procedure for consumers to submit claims against their banks. Keep reading for more on consumer financial protection—and the exact steps you can take to file a complaint of your own.
1. Contact Your Bank
After experiencing an issue like an incorrect fee or fraudulent activity, the first step is to contact your bank. This may require utilizing multiple means of communications (phone call, email, web message, etc.)
Be sure to document and retain these communications, as they may be necessary for reference later on.
Contact the bank’s customer service line and explain the situation. Oftentimes, they value you as a customer and can work with you to resolve the matter internally.
But there are times when this just isn’t enough. Maybe you do not feel respected as a customer, or that your voice is not truly being heard. In these situations, the next step is to file a complaint.
On the surface, these can help escalate the matter and ensure it finds a more impactful resolution. But the effects go beyond the individual level, as well.
If multiple customers submit complaints revolving around the same matters, it can help motivate administrators to take cohesive action. Hopefully, this prevents the matter from occurring again in the future.
2. Determine the Appropriate Party to Submit a Complaint
If you still find yourself having difficulty finding a resolution for your complaint, the next step is to contact the appropriate party and file an official complaint.
One of the best resources to consult is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). This agency of the federal government is designed to protect Americans from unfair practices at financial institutions.
You can easily submit a complaint online and receive email notifications when your case is updated. There are also traditional mail or phone contact options if you prefer.
Sometimes, there are other agencies that may better serve your complaint. In these situations, the CFPB complaint will be forwarded to the appropriate body.
Furthermore, the case (minus your personal information) is uploaded to a public database. This is later used to create, modify, and enforce financial rules and regulations.
3. Prepare and Submit Your Complaint
Now that you have identified the appropriate party to complain to, it is time to send it in. Especially in the case of unfair financial practices, it’s important to be as specific as possible.
By providing a wealth of information, you can help paint an accurate picture and rule out other potential variables. In addition to crafting an accurate and detailed narrative, it’s important to include helpful documentation (statements, communications from customer service, etc.)
In particular, including the following information can be especially helpful:
- Name of the financial institution
- Type of product or service used (mortgage, credit card, etc.)
- Process/procedure attempted (opening an account, lowering interest rates, etc.)
- Relevant dates, dollar amounts
- Actions taken by yourself in the matter
- Actions taken by the bank in the matter
- Your idea of a fair solution
- Any other parties involved
There are various free sample complaint letters available online if you need further guidance crafting your message.
4. Wait for a Response
After submitting a complaint, the next step is a waiting game. Despite how urgent your matter may be, these regulatory bodies can often move slowly and carefully.
Generally, the CFPB maintains a 15-day waiting period for a response from most companies following a complaint. However, some institutions can take up to 60 days.
After the company replies to the complaint, you as the consumer then have an opportunity to provide feedback to this. You are given a 60-day window to issue this information.
After this time, the exchange is ended.
What if I’m Still Not Satisfied With My Results?
For smaller matters, you can look for other places to complain. Generally, consumers can only make one complaint about each issue for their bank and the CFPB.
But beyond this, there is the court of public opinion. Sites like the Better Business Bureau and social media sites provide a forum to voice your grievances.
Although these platforms cannot issue their own resolutions, they can motivate the financial institution to act to avoid tarnishing their reputation.
For larger matters in which the resolution does not prove to be satisfactory, there are further options available. One option is legal action.
This may be handled outside of court with specific communications, or handled in small claims courts. Either way, consulting with a consumer attorney is the most effective way to ensure you make the most of your situation.
With the help of a qualified attorney, you can fight back against the big banks and lenders. In the New York area, consider https://consumerprotection.net/.
Their team of qualified attorneys can help you fight back against consumer issues, including:
- Inaccurate credit reporting
- Identity theft
- Unlawful collection
- Unlawful lending fees
- Other consumer misconduct
With the help of an expert consumer protection team, you can ensure your financial well-being is preserved.
Submitting a Consumer Financial Protection Claim of Your Own
With this information, you can feel more empowered as a consumer when it comes to your finances. Should you ever need to submit a complaint of your own, you can follow the above steps to make the best of the situation.
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