The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is your go-to source when your financial institution does not uphold their end of the contract. One thing to be aware of is if you are making claims in bad faith, the CFPB can NOT help you.
An example of a good use case is if you signed up for a promotional banking bonus and met the requirements, but the bank did not grant you the bonus.
A bad use case is if the bank charged you a maintenance fee if your minimum balance is too low (because it's in your banking contract).
Another way to think of it is: "how would a reasonable person interpret the situation?" Think through the situation as if you were impartial to the situation.
How to file a CFPB complaint
Note: Before filing a complaint, I strongly recommend trying to resolve the issue directly with the financial institution because it shows a bit of good faith.
To file a CFPB complaint, visit https://www.consumerfinance.gov/ and fill out a complaint form. When filling out a complaint, be sure to have documentation ready like who you talked to and any relevant documents.
How to file a CFPB complaint:
- Visit https://www.consumerfinance.gov/ and click "Submit a Complaint"
- Start a new complaint
- Select what the complaint is about
- Select the type of problem you are having
- Describe what happened and attach any relevant documents
- Select the company the complaint is about
- Note down the people involved
- Review and submit the complaint
You can file a CFPB complaint about a handful of issues including:
- Credit cards
- Bank accounts
- Student loans
- Debt collection
- Vehicle loan or lease
How I almost lost $500
I applied for a new account with a local bank in November 2017. They were running a $500 checking bonus promotion, and the requirements were 1) Deposit $1,000 and 2) 10 debit card transactions all within the first full month statement.
On the terms, it did mention that it may take up to 90 days for the bonus to be deposited into the account.
After the 90 days passed, the bonus was not deposited into the account. Naturally, I sent a secured message to the bank and asked where the bonus was.
I contacted the bank on three separate occasions and received three drastically different responses on how we didn't meet the bonus requirements. Some of the responses even added new terms that didn't exist and contradicted one another.
Given that we hit a wall and tried to resolve the issue with the bank, I decided to file a CFPB complaint.
We received a call from the bank's President office within 24 hours of filing the complaint, and were notified that they were investigating the situation.
After another 24 hours, the situation was resolved, and they ended up depositing the $500 bonus into our account in good faith.
I'm glad that the bank is actively working to improve their employee training moving forward. However, without the CFPB complaint, I would not have received the $500 signup bonus.