Deposit insurer posts ombudsman’s report, showing rise in bank/customer disputes, whistleblower actions

A two-year report from its ombudsman’s office was published Wednesday by the federal insurer of bank deposits, outlining the office’s efforts in 2019 and 2020 to address banker concerns about such issues as fear of retaliation from agency officials over exam appeals, and obtaining post-examination survey feedback.

The report also details assistance provided on behalf of the banking industry through the office of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC).

According to the agency, the report details efforts of the ombudsman’s office to solicit input on the existing appeals process; facilitate discussions and informally resolved disagreements over bank examination findings; assume responsibility for the “Post-Examination Survey” process; and serve as a resource to financial institutions and the general public affected by the coronavirus crisis.

Key sections of the report include feedback items on examination matters, other regulatory matters and the overall banking environment.

The report also notes that the number of “public inquiries” increased from 2019 to 2020. In 2019, the report states, the office received 1,618 public inquiries (the majority of which – 902 – either were not in the purview of the FDIC, or were referred to other federal financial regulators (including the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) or the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA).

The following year (2020), the office fielded 2,544 public inquiries – 1,576 of which were outside the agency’s purview, or were more relevant to another agency.

However: the 2020 inquiries show that disputes between banks and customers were considerably from the previous year, with 414 in 2020 compared to 320 in 2019. “Whistleblower” inquiries (allegations against FDIC-supervised financial institutions)were also up year-to-year, with 106 received in 2020, compared to 70 the year before.

FDIC Office of the Ombudsman Report on 2019 & 2020 Activities