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How to File a Consumer Complaint About a Bank
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Major Consumer Protection Laws

Following are the major laws that govern financial institutions and protect individuals in their financial dealings.

  

Community Reinvestment Act of 1977
Encourages financial institutions to help meet the credit needs of their communities, particularly low- and moderate-income neighborhoods.

Consumer Leasing Act of 1976
Requires that institutions disclose the cost and terms of consumer leases, such as automobile leases.

Electronic Fund Transfer Act (1978)
Establishes the basic rights, liabilities, and responsibilities of (1) consumers who use electronic fund transfer services and (2) financial institutions that offer these services. Covers transactions conducted at ATMs, at point-of-sale terminals in stores, and through telephone-bill-payment plans and preauthorized transfers to and from a customerís account, such as direct deposit of salary or Social Security payments.
Equal Credit Opportunity Act (1974)
Prohibits discrimination in credit transactions on many grounds, including sex, marital status, age, race, religion, color, national origin, the receipt of public assistance funds, or the exercise of any right under the Consumer Credit Protection Act. Requires creditors to grant credit to qualified individuals without requiring cosignature by spouses, inform unsuccessful applicants in writing of the reasons credit was denied, and allow married individuals to have credit histories on jointly held accounts maintained in the names of both spouses. Also entitles a borrower to a copy of an appraisal report.

Expedited Funds Availability Act (1987)
Specifies when depository institutions must make funds deposited by consumers available to them. Requires institutions to disclose to customers their policies on funds availability.

Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act of 2003
Enhances consumersí ability to combat identity theft, increases the accuracy of consumer reports, allows consumers to exercise greater control over the type and amount of marketing solicitations they receive, restricts the use and disclosure of sensitive medical information, and establishes uniform national standards in the regulation of consumer reporting. Amended the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

Fair Credit and Charge Card Disclosure Act of 1988
Requires that applications for credit cards that are sent through the mail, solicited by telephone, or made available to the public (for example, at counters in retail stores or through catalogs) contain information about key terms of the account. Amended the Truth in Lending Act.

Fair Credit Billing Act (1974)
Specifies how creditors must respond to billing complaints from consumers; imposes requirements to ensure that creditors handle accounts fairly and promptly. Applies primarily to revolving and credit card accounts (for example, store card and bank card accounts). Amended the Truth in Lending Act.

Fair Credit Reporting Act (1970)
Protects consumers against inaccurate or misleading information in credit files maintained by credit reporting agencies; requires credit reporting agencies to allow credit applicants to correct erroneous reports.

Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (1977)
Prohibits abusive debt-collection practices. Applies to banks that function as debt collectors for other entities.

Fair Housing Act (1968)
Prohibits discrimination in the extension of housing credit on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, handicap, or family status.

Federal Trade Commission Improvement Act (1980)
Authorizes the Federal Reserve to identify unfair or deceptive acts or practices by banks and to issue regulations to prohibit them. Using this authority, the Federal Reserve has adopted rules substantially similar to those adopted by the FTC that restrict certain practices in the collection of delinquent consumer debt (for example, practices related to late charges, responsibilities of cosigners, and wage assignments).

Flood Disaster Protection Act of 1973
Requires flood insurance on property in a flood hazard area that falls under the National Flood Insurance Program.

Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (1999)
Regulation P -- Privacy of Consumer Financial Information. Describes the conditions under which financial institutions may disclose nonpublic personal information about consumers to nonaffiliated third parties, provides a method for consumers to opt out of information sharing with nonaffiliated third parties, and requires financial institutions to notify consumers about their privacy policies and practices.
Regulation H -- Consumer Protection in Sales of Insurance. Describes conditions for retail sales, solicitations, advertising, or offers of insurance products or annuities by state member banks or by others at an office of a bank. Prohibits coercion and misrepresentations and requires disclosures in connection with the initial purchase of an insurance product or annuity.

Home Equity Loan Consumer Protection Act of 1988
Requires creditors to provide consumers with detailed information about open-end credit plans secured by the consumerís dwelling, including a brochure describing home equity loans in general. Also regulates advertising of home equity loans and restricts the terms of home equity loan plans.

Home Mortgage Disclosure Act of 1975
Requires mortgage lenders to annually disclose to the public data about the geographic distribution of their applications, originations, and purchases of home-purchase and home-improvement loans and refinancings. Requires lenders to report data on the ethnicity, race, sex, and income of applicants and borrowers, as well as pricing data on certain loans. Also directs the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council, of which the Federal Reserve is a member, to make summaries of the data available to the public.

Home Ownership and Equity Protection Act of 1994
Provides additional disclosure requirements and substantive limitations on home-equity loans with rates or fees above a certain percentage or amount. Amended the Truth in Lending Act.

Homeowners Protection Act of 1998
Establishes rules for automatic termination and borrower cancellation of private mortgage insurance (PMI) on home mortgages.

Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act of 1974
Requires that the nature and costs of real estate settlements be disclosed to borrowers. Also protects borrowers against abusive practices, such as kickbacks, and limits the use of escrow accounts.

Right to Financial Privacy Act of 1978
Protects bank customers from the unlawful scrutiny of their financial records by federal agencies and specifies procedures that government authorities must follow when they seek information about a customerís records from a financial institution.

Truth in Lending Act (1968)
Requires uniform methods for computing the cost of credit and for disclosing credit terms. Gives borrowers the right to cancel, within three days, certain loans secured by their residences. Prohibits the unsolicited issuance of credit cards and limits cardholder liability for unauthorized use. Also imposes limitations on home equity loans with rates or fees above a specified threshold.

Truth in Savings Act (1991)
Requires that depository institutions disclose certain information to depositors about their accounts--including the annual percentage yield, which must be calculated in a uniform manner--and prohibits certain methods of calculating interest. Regulates advertising of savings accounts.

Womenís Business Ownership Act of 1988
Extends to applicants for business credit certain protections afforded consumer credit applicants, such as the right to an explanation for credit denial. Amended the Equal Credit Opportunity Act.

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