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Report ranks banks on consumer complaints

The nation’s three largest banks — Wells Fargo Bank, the Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase — ranked first through third respectively in consumer complaints both nationwide and in Florida, a U.S. PIRG (Public Interest Research Group) Education Fund report found.

While the banks with the most complaints are the largest in total dollars deposited, the banks that generated the most complaints on a per-dollar basis were TCF National Bank, Sovereign Bank and Capital One, the report released Tuesday said.

The PIRG report cited various categories including complaints against banking services and banking issues.

The most frequent complaints involved checking accounts, “other financial products,” savings accounts, certificates of deposit and cashing a check without an account. Checking account complaints accounted for 78 percent of all banking-related complaints, the PIRG report said.

The most frequent complaints by issue were difficulties opening an account, problems closing an account and management problems including confusing marketing, denial of an account, fees, statements, interest and closing an account.

Wells Fargo was the most frequently complained-about bank in 23 states and Washington, D.C. The report cited 2,771 complaints directed toward Wells Fargo on checking; 257 about “other financial services”; 224 for savings accounts; and 173 for certificates of deposit.

The bank could not be reached for comment on the report.

The most populous states generated the most consumer complaints, although Florida which ranks fourth in U.S. population ranked third in banking complaints.

U.S. PIRG, the Boston-based consumer advocacy group, used a database the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau created in its efforts to enforce consumer protection laws and educate consumers.

Consumers have filed more than 19,000 incidents involving banking with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which began work in July 2011 despite opposition by major banking industry leaders and many in Congress.

“Thanks to the CFPB’s complaints database, consumers who get ripped off or misled by their banks can make their voices heard and get satisfaction,” said Laura Murray, Consumer Associate for the US PIRG Education Fund.

Consumers can submit complaints to the CFPB at consumerfinance.gov/complaint/

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