Community Dividend

Fed creates one-stop help center for consumers

Published January 1, 2008  |  January 2008 issue

The Federal Reserve System (FRS) recently launched Federal Reserve Consumer Help (FRCH), a centralized resource for processing consumer complaints and inquiries about banks and other financial institutions. FRCH is designed to give consumers a streamlined means of obtaining assistance with banking-related questions or concerns.

The FRS is one of five federal banking regulators charged with ensuring that financial institutions comply with consumer protection and fair lending laws, including the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, Fair Credit Reporting Act, and Truth in Lending Act. If a consumer suspects that a bank's policies or practices violate any of these laws, he or she has the right to file a complaint with the bank's federal regulator. However, it is not always apparent which regulator supervises which institution. Prior to the creation of FRCH, consumers sometimes had to make several inquiries before locating the appropriate agency.

Now, through FRCH, a consumer can file a complaint about any financial institution—regardless of the institution's regulator—via a single point of contact. FRCH customer service representatives record the complaint and then process it according to which federal regulator has supervisory authority over the institution. A complaint related to a bank that is supervised by the FRS is transferred to the Federal Reserve Bank in whose district the bank is located. Complaints about other institutions are forwarded to the appropriate federal regulators. After the appropriate regulator receives a complaint, it begins investigating the matter to determine whether any laws have been violated.

In addition to processing consumer complaints, FRCH provides answers to a wide variety of questions about banks and bank regulations. To contact FRCH, call 1-888-851-1920 (TTY: 1-877-766-8533) weekdays between 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. CST, e-mail ConsumerHelp@FederalReserve.gov, or visit www.federalreserveconsumerhelp.gov.

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