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OCC One-Stop Complaint Filing

posted by Bob Lawless

The U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) has launched a web site where consumers can file complaints against federally chartered U.S. banks. The web site--www.helpwithmybank.gov--will help consumers determine whether their bank is a federally chartered, national bank. The OCC's jurisdiction extends only to national banks, but the web site says the OCC will "direct consumers in the right direction" even if the complaint relates to a financial institution outside their jurisdiction. (Note to OCC: "Direct in the right direction?" Although that phrase surely warms the heart of a bureaucrat, can't we do better than that?)

The OCC's new web site also has a Q&A section to help consumers understand what practices banks can and cannot do. This information is written in plain and understandable English. What many consumers might learn is that most of things that banks do to them are perfectly legal. Q: How often can the bank change my interest rate? A: At its discretion. Q: On the telephone solicitation, the salesperson stated a lower rate, but whey I got the card, it was a higher rate. Can the bank do that? A: Yes. Q: The bank is charging a higher interest rate than my state allows. Can it do that? A: Generally, yes.

None of this is meant to criticize the OCC for this web site. It can only enforce the laws that are written. Also, the streamlined process for submitting complaints is a positive development. I hope the OCC tracks the number and nature of the complaint submitted through the web site and, more importantly, makes that information public.


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