Has Your Bank Acted Illegally?

by Ron Haynes

Complaints against banks have been on the rise for a few years now, most of them relating to customer service and specific individual bank policies that don’t necessarily violate any laws or regulations. But, if you have a legal complaint against your bank and they have failed to address it, where do you turn? What do you do? Who should you complain to? Answer: The Federal Reserve.

federalreserve The process

After you file a complaint, an appropriate Federal Reserve representative will determine the nature of your complaint and forward it to the appropriate regulator. You should receive your first response within 15 days, telling you whether the Federal Reserve will be handling your complaint, or another (more appropriate) agency. The complaint will be processed according to each agency’s established investigation procedures. You should receive a determination within 60 days.

Is your complaint legitimate?

You can file a complaint if you believe your bank has been unfair or misleading, discriminated against you in lending or on a mortgage, or violated a law or regulation. The Federal Reserve investigates complaints related to federal consumer protection laws, such as the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, Fair Credit Reporting Act, and the Truth in Lending Act.

How do you file a complaint?

First, try to settle the problem directly with your bank or financial institution. If you cannot resolve the problem, contact The Federal Reserve for help. To file a complaint, you can:

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Federal Reserve Consumer Help
PO Box 1200
Minneapolis, MN 55480

Note: All complaints to the Federal Reserve must be in writing!

In your complaint, be sure to include:

  • Your name, address, and telephone number(s).
  • The complete name and address of the bank involved in your complaint, if known.
  • The names of those you dealt with at the bank, along with the dates.
  • A description of your complaint. Explain what happened in your own words. The more information you give about the problem, the faster the investigation (and the response) will be.

Do not include your original documentation but it’s a good idea to have some copies on hand. The agency investigating your complaint will contact you if any additional documentation is needed. If you need assistance with filing a complaint, you can call toll free at 888-851-1920 (TTY: 877-766-8533) 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. CST.

What will the Federal Reserve do?

They will connect you with or forward your complaint to the appropriate federal regulator for the bank or institution involved in your complaint.

If your complaint is against a financial institution that the Federal Reserve supervises, it will be investigated by one of the 12 regional Federal Reserve Banks. As the Reserve Bank investigates each issue raised in your complaint, it will:

  • Ask the bank involved for information and records regarding your complaint.
  • Determine if the bank’s response adequately addresses your concerns.
  • Send you a letter with its findings.

The Reserve Bank may also contact you to request additional information necessary to complete its investigation.

The Reserve Bank will let you know if it finds an error or a violation of a federal law or regulation. Investigations typically take 30 to 60 days to complete. If more than 60 days have passed, the Reserve Bank will contact you to let you know the status of its investigation. Please note that it may take several months to investigate more complex complaints like those alleging illegal credit discrimination.

What won’t the Federal Reserve do?

Although the Federal Reserve looks into every complaint that involves the banks it regulate, it doesn’t have the authority to resolve every type of problem. For example:

  • They are unable to resolve contract disputes or undocumented factual disputes between a customer and a bank. In these cases, you should contact an attorney.
  • They cannot investigate matters that are the subject of a pending lawsuit.
  • They are unable to resolve complaints about customer service or disagreements over specific bank policies and procedures not addressed by federal law or regulation.

The financial industry is one of the most heavily regulated in the world and those regulations are designed to protect you, the consumer, from unfair and/or misleading practices. If you feel that you’ve been a victim, make certain you fight back.

About the author

Ron Haynes has written 987 articles on The Wisdom Journal.


The founder and editor of The Wisdom Journal in 2007, Ron has worked in banking, distribution, retail, and upper management for companies ranging in size from small startups to multi-billion dollar corporations. He graduated Suma Cum Laude from a top MBA program and currently is a Human Resources and Management consultant, helping companies know how employees will behave in varying situations and what motivates them to action, assisting firms in identifying top talent, and coaching managers and employees on how to better communicate and make the workplace MUCH more enjoyable. If you'd like help in these areas, contact Ron using the contact form at the top of this page or at 870-761-7881.