Indiana residents complain most frequently about bigger banks

2013-10-12T09:32:00Z Indiana residents complain most frequently about bigger banksJoseph S. Pete, (219) 933-3316

Customers can make a federal case out of it if they have an issue with their bank.

Nearly 19,000 people have taken grievances about financial services to the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which will work with the company to resolve the issue.

Indiana ranks in the middle of the pack when it comes to complaints about banks, such as difficulties with opening, closing or managing accounts, according to an Indiana Public Interest Research Group study.

The state ranked 23rd-highest nationally in the number of complaints relative to the amount of money deposited, an INPIRG review of the bureau's consumer complaint database found.

Indiana residents complained most about Fifth Third Bank, JP Morgan Chase and PNC Bank, in that order, the report found. Indiana placed highest in state rankings with complaints about problems caused by low funds, difficulty cashing checks without an account and issues with checking accounts.

Nationally, the state ranked eight-highest in complaints about low-fund issues, such as overdraft fees, non-sufficient funds fees and bounced checks.

"Thanks to the complaints database, consumers who get ripped off or misled by their banks can make their voices heard and get satisfaction," said Alec Sprague, a federal advocate for INPIRG. "Other consumers can view the public database and make smarter, more informed financial choices. By providing a roadmap for navigating the tricks and traps of the financial marketplace, this database is another way the (bureau) gets real results for consumers."

The federal agency was founded in 2010 in the wake of the financial crisis, and started collecting data on banking last spring. The bureau tracks complaints to keep tabs on business practices that could pose risk to consumers, to enforce federal consumer financial laws, and come up with better rules and regulations.

INPIRG crunched the consumer complaint data, and found that about 28 percent of complaints got the customer some monetary relief – on average, about $110. An additional 5 percent of complaints resulted in relief that did not involve money, such as when banks agreed to adjust account terms or to contact a credit bureau to request a change in a credit report.

About 95 percent of complaints were closed, but the customers still disputed about one in every five resolutions. Customers were least likely to dispute a bank's response if they got some monetary relief.

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