The OCC has clarified that national banks should resolve consumer complaints fairly and expeditiously, regardless of the source. The latest advisory (AL 2004-2 at www.occ.treas.gov) responds to concerns that national banks would use new OCC preemption rules to decline to respond to the states. National banks must "do the right thing for their customers," the OCC said.
While the OCC has exclusive supervisory authority over national banks, that does not allow national banks to disregard consumer complaints forwarded by state authorities. Generally, national banks should be able to resolve any complaints with the customer or with the state without involving the OCC, unless the state attempts to direct national bank activities. If state officials want to know how the complaint was resolved, national banks should comply without compromising customer privacy interests.
New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, one of the most vocal critics of the OCC's preemption rule, said he was pleased the OCC recognized its "folly." But he also said, "It is now critically important that the OCC recognize, either voluntarily, through action by Congress, or through judicial order, that its anti-consumer regulations must be overturned." The OCC has asked states to direct concerns about illegal, predatory, unfair or deceptive acts or practices by national banks directly to the OCC so it can take appropriate action.