Complaints against Florida banks decrease with improving economy

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Complaints against banks in Florida have declined 27 percent in 2012, according to a study by KH Thomas Associates, with Bank of America having the largest proportional decrease.

The study, reported Tuesday in the South Florida Business Journal, looked at complaints filed with the Florida Office of Financial Regulation (OFR).  Starting with a high of 1,840 complaints in 2009 — during the worst of the recession — complaints declined from 1,231 in 2011 to 903 in 2012. 

Thomas believes the reduction in complaints is due to the recovering economy, as well as banks improving customer service response to grievances — the most common of which regarded balance disclosure, mortgages and loan issues.

Bank of America (BOA) is Florida’s second-largest bank, and continued to attract the most complaints; however, BOA also experienced the greatest drop in complaints between 2011 and 2012 — from 164 to 155.

Wells Fargo was second on the complaint list, with 113 complaints, up from 69 in 2011; and JPMorgan Chase Bank was third, with 66 complaints, down from 81 in 2011.

Other banks making the Top 10 list of complaint-ridden institutions include, in order: SunTrust, Space Coast Credit Union, Regions Bank, Citibank, Capital One, General Electroc, BB&T, and Fairwinds Credit Union

Miami-based Sabadell United Bank was the largest regional institution without one complaint against it in 2012.  In contrast, Tropical Financial Credit Union had the most complaints (10) among credit unions, more than any local bank despite being considerably smaller.

Interestingly, only 28 percent of complaints to OFR came from Florida residents. About 17 percent came from North Carolina, and 15 percent from South Dakota — a strange finding.

OFR only resolved about 5 percent of complaints, forwarding the majority to federal agencies.