News Release 2006-38 | March 28, 2006

GAO Report Provides Positive Assessment of OCC Consumer Assistance

WASHINGTON – Comptroller of the Currency John C. Dugan said today he was pleased with a report by the Government Accountability Office on the agency’s consumer assistance services and said the OCC will implement three recommendations in the report.

"We are very proud of the work of our Customer Assistance Group," Mr. Dugan said, referring to the OCC’s state-of-the-art consumer help center, which is based in Houston.  "Not only does the CAG assist consumers with questions or complaints, but it helps national banks improve their customer service and it provides invaluable feedback that helps our examiners focus on problem areas."

Mr. Dugan said GAO’s review provided a positive assessment of OCC’s consumer assistance operation, and said its three recommendations will lead to improvements in the way CAG obtains feedback from consumers, publicizes its services and measures case resolutions.

"The OCC’s CAG unit does outstanding work, but we are always looking to improve, and GAO’s recommendations will be very helpful in that regard," he said.

GAO reported that the OCC’s bank examiners use consumer complaint information collected by CAG to plan or adjust examinations.  CAG staff and OCC examiners communicate regularly regarding specific complaints and complaint volumes for individual banks, and they coordinate in communicating consumer-related issue to bank officials.

In addition, the GAO reported that complaint data is used to inform OCC policy guidance to banks, often addressing potential compliance and safety and soundness risks that institutions face.  The report also noted that the CAG provides feedback to banks, focusing on complaint trends and potential risks that may impact compliance with consumer protection laws or other issues.

GAO noted that while the OCC handles more complaints than the other federal banking agencies, it meets its goal of answering 80 percent of all consumer calls within three minutes. 

The GAO recommended that the OCC measure customer satisfaction with CAG services and the OCC is making plans to implement that recommendation.

GAO also encouraged the OCC to revise the way it measures and reports on timeliness in resolving consumer complaints, and to find ways to better inform the public, state officials, and others of the agency’s role in handling consumer questions and complaints.  The OCC has already begun to implement these recommendations.

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