Consumer Complaints and Inquiries

Although a financial institution can take advantage of the public nature of social media to address customer complaints and questions, reputation risks exist when the financial institution does not address consumer questions or complaints in a timely or appropriate manner. Further, the participatory nature of social media can expose a financial institution to reputation risks that may arise when users post critical or inaccurate statements. Compliance risk can also arise when a customer uses social media to communicate issues or concerns directly with a financial institution, such as an error dispute under Regulation E, a billing error under Regulation Z, or a direct dispute about information furnished to a consumer reporting agency under FCRA and its implementing regulations.

This Guidance does not require financial institutions to monitor and respond to all Internet communications; however, a financial institution is expected to take into account the results of its own risk assessments in determining the appropriate approach to take regarding monitoring of, and responding to, such communications. Appropriate steps may include, for example, establishing one or more specific channels consumers must use when submitting complaints or disputes directly to the institution for further investigation, to the extent consistent with other applicable legal requirements. However, the institution should also consider the risks, particularly the reputation risk, inherent in not responding to complaints and disputes received through other channels and tailor its policies and procedures accordingly, in a manner appropriate to the institution's size and risk profile.

Based on its own risk assessment processes, a financial institution should also consider whether and how to respond to communications disparaging the financial institution on other parties' social media sites. One approach to managing these risks would be to monitor question and complaint forums on social media sites to ensure that such inquiries, complaints, or comments are reviewed, and when appropriate, addressed in a timely manner.

Sources: FFIEC; Regulation Z; Regulation E; FCRA

The Highlights:

  • Lenders are required under regulation (like Reg Z, Reg E, and the FCRA) to review, respond, and archive consumer complaints, including those made on social media.
  • However, lenders are not responsible for monitoring and responding to all internet content, i.e. Claimed vs. Unclaimed profiles. 
  • Each lender should still consider reviewing any unclaimed profile content in an effort to protect their brand image. .