How to File a Complaint Against a Credit Union
Credit unions are nonprofit organizations that serve their customers (i.e. members).Credit unions can be either federally or state chartered, which dictates who regulates their actions. If you have a dispute with a federal or state chartered credit union, you should try to work it out with them first. If you are unsuccessful, you can bring your complaint to the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) (if the credit union is federally chartered) or to your state regulator (if the credit union is state chartered). If all else fails, you can bring a lawsuit against the credit union for certain actions.
Contacting the Credit Union
Gather relevant information.Before you approach your credit union with a problem, gather information that will help you make your case. Try to understand who caused the problem, what the problem is, when it occurred, where it occurred, and why it occurred. Things to look for include:
- Documentation of conversations with employees and managers. They should include details about who you talked to, when you talked to the person, for how long you talked, and what the conversation was about.
- The names of the employees involved in your dispute. This may be the teller that helped you or it may be the loan officer that signed off on your loan agreement.
- A personal statement that explains what your concern is. For example, you might have an overdraft fee when you thought you had overdraft protection or you might have a service fee when you thought your account was free.
- Gather statements, loan payment receipts, or ATM receipts. These things can help you determine exactly when the problem occurred. They will also help you pinpoint where the problem occurred (i.e., was it an ATM transaction or was it a drive-thru deposit). Finally, these types of documents will help you show the credit union why the problem occurred. For example, your account statement may show that money didn't get transferred as it was supposed to and that is why you got an overdraft fee.
Determine what you would like from the credit union.Once you know the particulars of your issue, consider what you want the credit union to do.When you contact the credit union, you need to be able to tell them how they can fix the problem. Come up with a solution that is relevant and reasonable.
- For example, if you received an overdraft fee, ask that it be reimbursed. However, do not ask for a credit if the fee was only .
Make a complaint.Call or visit your local credit union branch. If the problem is more complex, consider making a written complaint and sending it to the credit union branch.Your complaint should include the details of your complaint, the documentation to back it up, and a request for action.
Talk to the employee that helped you first.If you go in the branch, talk to the employee that caused the problem.While you should be considerate and professional, let them know you have a concern and that you would like it addressed.
Ask to speak to a manager.If the employee cannot resolve your complaint, ask to speak to a manager or some other senior employee.Try to find someone that has the authority to reverse transactions, reimburse fees, or take other actions you find necessary to resolve your complaint.
Contact the credit union's supervisory committee.A supervisory committee is a group of individuals appointed by the credit union's board.They have multiple tasks including monitoring actions to ensure sound practices and procedures are being followed.Most credit union websites will tell you about the supervisory board and how you can contact them. Write them an email or send them a letter outlining your problem, which needs to include a solution.
Filing a Complaint with the NCUA
Determine if your credit union is federally chartered.Federal credit unions will usually have the word "federal" somewhere in the title. Also, any credit union with headquarters in Arkansas, Delaware, South Dakota, Wyoming, or Washington, D.C. is a federal credit union.
- If you are still unsure, you can visit your credit union branch. Federally chartered credit unions must display NCUA signs in their branches.
- In addition, you can find more information by using the "Find a Credit Union" link at .
File a written complaint.You can start a federal complaint by filling out an NCUA Consumer Assistance Form. The form can be found at . The form will ask for your information as well as the credit union's information. It will ask you to describe the complaint and add any documentation you think will help NCUA make a decision. Finally, you will have to ask for a resolution.
- Along with this form, you should also supply copies of any correspondence or evidence relevant to your complaint.
- You can submit the form and your documentation online at . You can also fax your information to 703-518-6682. You can also send your complaint to "National Credit Union Administration, Consumer Assistance Center, 1775 Duke Street, Alexandria, VA 22314-3418.
Have your complaint reviewed.As soon as NCUA receives your complaint, you will receive a correspondence with a case number. NCUA will review your complaint and determine whether they can offer a solution. If not, NCUA will notify you and may even forward your complaint to another department or agency.
Attempt a resolution.If your complaint can be enforced by NCUA, they will forward your complaint to the credit union and ask for a response. The credit union will have 60 days to resolve the complaint with you.
- If you and the credit union come to a resolution, NCUA will close your case.
- If you and the credit union cannot come to a resolution, NCUA will begin a formal investigation.
Have your complaint investigated.Whether you and the credit union don't come to a resolution or the credit union doesn't respond, NCUA will investigate your claim.
Wait for a decision.The investigation may take several months to complete. You can check the status online or you can call NCUA.Once the complaint has been reviewed and investigated, you will receive a determination letter from NCUA.
Communicating with State Regulators
Determine if your credit union is state chartered.If a credit union does not have "federal" in its name or is not headquartered in one of the states mentioned as federal states, it is most likely state chartered.
Locate your state's regulatory agency.Perform an internet search about what agency regulates your state chartered credit unions. If you are not having any luck, call NCUA's Consumer Assistance Line at 800-755-1030.
- In California, for example, state chartered credit unions are regulated by the Credit Union Division of the Department of Business Oversight.
- In Washington, state chartered credit unions are regulated by the Department of Financial Institutions.
File a complaint.If you able to visit the website for your state's financial regulator, look in sidebars or menus on the website to locate a complaint form. Some websites will have an official complaint form you can fill out or provide details on how to file a complaint. If you have difficulty finding information about filing a complaint online, call your state's financial regulator using the phone number provided for consumer assistance or for the main office to determine how you can file a complaint against a credit union. Most states will require complaints to include the following information:
- Your information;
- Your credit union's information;
- Information about your complaint; and
- Supplemental information, which can often be sent in with the complaint form.
Get the credit union's response.In some states, the state regulator will reach out to the credit union and ask them to respond to your allegations. In Washington, the credit union has 15 days to respond to your complaint.
- If the credit union responds, you can try and work out a resolution with them directly.
Have your complaint investigated.If the credit union does not respond to your complaint, or responds in an adverse manner, your state regulator will investigate your complaint. They may ask you or the credit union to provide more information or documents if they feel it is necessary.
- In some states, including Texas, any complaint alleging factual or contractual disputes cannot be unilaterally handled by the state regulator. While the state regulator can attempt to help the parties come to an agreement, only a court of law can impose duties or penalties on one of the parties.
Wait for a decision.At the end of the state process, the state regulator will issue a determination if they have the authority to act. For example, in California, the Department of Business Oversight can stop violations of the law, revoke licenses, and levy penalties. In addition, they can file civil actions to stop violations of the law.
Going to Court
Hire an attorney.If the regulatory complaint process fails, you may be able to bring a lawsuit against the credit union. Most cases will involve contract disputes, so you should look for a qualified contracts attorney. However, there are other types of cases you may have against a credit union (i.e., discrimination or fraud). If you need help finding an attorney, visit your state bar's website and use their lawyer referral service. In California for example, you can call an individual who will ask you general questions about your case. At the end of your conversation, they will give you the names of a number of qualified attorneys in your area.
- Before you hire an attorney, sit down with them for an initial consultation. During this meeting you should discuss their experience and expertise in your particular area of the law; their reputation for success and honesty; and their comfort level with your case.
- In addition, you should never hire an attorney without first discussing their fee structure.
Determine where to sue.If you are suing a federally chartered credit union, you will most likely bring a lawsuit in federal court as you will be dealing with federal law. However, if you are suing a state chartered credit union, you may wind up state court suing under a state law. Talk with your attorney about the best strategy for your particular case.
Draft a complaint.A complaint is a form that formally starts a lawsuit. In general, your complaint will describe your injury, explain how the defendant caused you harm, show the court they have jurisdiction, and ask for relief.
- For example, your complaint may state you have a contract dispute with a credit union and that the credit union failed to hold up their end of the bargain. You might state they were to give you a loan for ,000 and instead you only received ,000. You will then tell the court why they have jurisdiction and you will ask for damages.
File your lawsuit and serve the other party.Once you have drafted the complaint, you will file it with the clerk of courts. You will have to pay a filing fee when you do this. You may be able to get a fee waiver if you can prove you have a financial hardship that makes it unreasonable for you to pay the fee.
- After you file a lawsuit, you must notify the other party. To do so, you will hire an independent third party to serve the defendant with a copy of your complaint as well as a summons.Once you do so, you will need to notify the court that service has been completed.
Prepare for your case.To prepare for your case, you and the other party will have an opportunity to take part in discovery. During discovery, both parties will ask for documents from the other side that will help them prepare for trial. You may ask for relevant documents or you might ask to interview possible witnesses.
- For example, you may ask to depose (interview) the loan officer that signed your loan agreement.
- You might also ask for copies of the original loan document as well as any email correspondence between employees regarding your particular loan.
Settle before trial.Some courts will encourage settlements. In order to avid the cost and delay of litigation, you may be required or asked to take part in formal arbitration or mediation.During these sessions, you and the credit union will get together with a neutral third party and discuss your differences. If you can come to a resolution, you will submit it to the court and ask them to sign off on it.
Take part in a trial.If a settlement cannot be reached, you will go to trial. At trial, a judge or jury will hear evidence, which might include physical as well as documentary evidence, and will decide who is right and who is wrong. Each side will have an opportunity to present evidence as well as ask questions about the other side's evidence.
- At the end, the judge or jury will deliberate and make a decision. If you win, you will be awarded damages.
QuestionHow can I tell if a credit union is federal- or state-run?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerMore than likely it is in the name. If the credit union has the word 'federal' in the name or if there is an 'F' in the initials, it is a federal credit union. You can always call and ask the credit union or check the About section of their website.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I sue a credit union?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerGet a good lawyer.Thanks!
QuestionMy credit union has suspended access to my child support funds in my checking account because I'm behind on a loan. What can I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerContact the credit union and an accountant.Thanks!
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