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Consumer bureau open to complaints on bank accounts

By Jim Puzzanghera, Los Angeles Times –

WASHINGTON — The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Thursday began taking complaints about bank checking and savings accounts as it continues to expand its operations.

“Deposit accounts play a critical role in the lives of most Americans, but these products and the laws governing them are complicated,” said the bureau’s director, Richard Cordray. “Consumers need someone on their side to keep banks and credit unions accountable — that is our job at the consumer bureau.”

The agency said it expects to hear a variety of complaints, including problems related to opening and closing accounts, dealing with low account balances and using debit or ATM cards. Last month, the agency launched a broad investigation of overdraft fees charged by banks and started soliciting public input on a new disclosure box about the fees on monthly statements.

The consumer bureau opened in July and has been expanding its complaint operation by product category. Consumers immediately were able to make complaints about credit cards. Mortgage complaints were added in December.

Through Feb. 22, the agency had received more than 22,000 complaints, including nearly 12,000 on credit cards and close to 7,000 about mortgages.

People can complain via an online form, or by phone (855-411-CFPB, or 3272), fax or mail. The agency said its call centers, which are based in the U.S., have little or no wait times and can take complaints in 187 languages, as well as from those with hearing or speech impairments.

The agency said it works with financial institutions to resolve consumer complaints. Banks are expected to respond to complaints within 15 days and try to resolve them within 60 days. Consumers are given a tracking number to check the status of their complaint.

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