HARRISBURG, PA — The Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities (DoBS) responded to more than 4,200 consumer financial complaints and inquiries in fiscal year 2018-2019 and helped to resolve them in an average of five days or less, according to the recently released Consumer Services Annual Report.
“Consumer protection is absolutely a top priority of the department,” said DoBS Secretary Robin L. Wiessmann. “Our staff helps Pennsylvanians resolve issues they might have with financial institutions and educates consumers to prevent them from becoming victims of scams or fraud.”
Consumers report to DoBS the problems they encounter with their banking accounts. This can include account balances, unauthorized withdrawals, identity theft, timing of deposits, debit card and credit card problems. Of the most common complaints last year, 32 percent were related to bank account/services, primarily withdrawals, and 27 percent were mortgage issues, primarily with underwriting.
The focus of educational outreach last year was illegal or predatory lending; elder financial abuse; smart retirement saving; and financial education for prisoner reentrants, in partnership with the Department of Corrections.
The department’s Investor Education and Consumer Outreach presented, or represented the department, at 359 events across 55 counties, reaching more than 21,235 Pennsylvanians, including:
- 10,992 seniors at 54 senior expos;
- 1,139 seniors at 59 Fraud Bingo events;
- 1,554 financial professionals at 18 elder abuse prevention trainings;
- 483 working adults at 17 Start Today and Retire Tomorrow (STaRT) retirement planning presentations;
- 6,470 inmates at 123 fairs and presentations.
Though the department received the least number of overall complaints last year compared to the past five years, thousands of Pennsylvanians are victims of scams and fraud each year. The report highlights affinity fraud, identity theft, and fake checks for being especially common now, and provides tips for consumers to protect themselves.
The department’s Investor Education and Consumer Outreach is part of the governor’s Consumer Financial Protection Initiative. The staff works with state and local government agencies, service providers, community and trade organizations, the General Assembly, the military community, schools, and other partners to help Pennsylvanians become well-informed about the financial marketplace. A variety of free, non-commercial programs and presentations are available. Programs can be tailored to a specific group’s needs.
Anyone can ask questions or file complaints online about financial transactions, companies, or services or call 1-800-PA-BANKS (800-600-0007).
Source: Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities
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