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How borrowers can file bank complaints

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Homeowners often say they feel powerless against lenders as they try to get lower interest rates or other types of mortgage modifications.

Borrowers who encounter persistent and serious problems may file complaints with the federal Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, part of the U.S. Treasury Department. It regulates federally chartered banks, which include the most well-known lenders in the nation and even smaller banks. When the agency refers a complaint to the bank, the bank often takes notice by looking into the matter and responding to the consumer.

“We look at each complaint individually,” said Larry Hattix, the agency’s ombudsman.

The number of mortgage-related complaints to his office has continued to grow since 2008, when Wall Street imploded and left many jobless across the nation. Last year, mortgage issues accounted for about half of all complaints.

Practically every borrower who’s contacted Newsday with their loan modification stories complains about repeatedly resending documents to the lender or loan servicer, only to hear the papers are missing or aren’t in their case files.

Hattix said he hasn’t seen such a trend in complaints to his office, but he wants borrowers to report such difficulties so his agency can look for common problems and address them.

“In those cases where the bank is losing the consumer’s paperwork, we want to hear about those things,” Hattix said. “We encourage those constituents to file a complaint with the OCC. We take those very seriously.”

The office will also refer complaints to other regulatory agencies. Hattix said his agency tries to resolve the problem for the consumer within 60 days of getting the complaint.

Go to helpwithmybank.gov. The site also has questions and answers on mortgage, credit card, bank accounts and insurance issues.

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