FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Consumers frequently ask the following questions. Answers
are provided for general information purposes only, and should not
be construed as formal legal advice provided by the Division of
Financial Institutions. You should always consult with your own
attorney regarding your legal rights in any given situation.
- Q. I just made my last regular car payment
and they say I still owe them money. Can you audit my account to
see if they are right?
- A. No. We cannot conduct special audits of individual transactions or
intervene in disputes of fact between institutions we regulate and
- Q. A collection agency has been harassing
me for payment. What can I do to stop them?
- A. Debt collection practices are governed by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which is administered by the
Federal Trade Commission. Sections 1319.12 and 1319.16 of
the Ohio Revised Code also address debt collection practices.
- Q. I co-signed on a car loan for my son and he is behind
in his payments. Can the lender make me pay?
- A. A co-signer is generally responsible for the repayment of a loan if the loan is not repaid on time.
- Q. The lender repossessed my car and sold it for less
than I owed. They say I still owe them the difference. Is this true?
- A. Yes. You may be responsible for what is commonly called a "deficiency balance."
- Q. I paid off my mortgage loan last year and I just
found out the lender did not release my mortgage at the courthouse.
What can I do?
- A. According to Section 5301.36(B) of
the Ohio Revised Code, lenders are required to release mortgage liens no later than 90 days after payoff or be subject to a $250 civil penalty. We have no jurisdiction in this matter, so if the lender fails to cooperate, you should seek the advice of an attorney or take the lender to Small claims court.
- Q. My credit report shows an outstanding loan I paid
off months ago. What can I do?
- A. You have protection under the Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act. If the lender fails to cooperate, you can make an appeal to the credit bureau. The Federal Trade Commission has jurisdiction over this matter.
Consumers can challenge the accuracy of the information in their individual credit histories by contacting the credit reporting agency. The three major consumer credit reporting agencies are listed below. Equifax 1-800-525-6285 Experian (formerly TRW) 1-800-301-7195 Trans Union 1-800-680-7289 The Social Security Administration also has a fraud line at 1-800-269-0271.
- Q. I just found an old savings passbook in my late
father’s personal papers, but I never heard of the financial institution.
How can I get the money?
- A. If the deposit was in a state-chartered depository institution, we can check historical records to help you determine if the institution still exists, was merged into another institution, or was liquidated. Please contact Phyllis Humphrey at (614) 644-7533. Descriptions, telephone numbers, and mailing addresses of regulators for federally chartered depository institutions
can be found in the Consumer Complaints Section. If the deposit
has been inactive for more than five years, you should contact the Ohio Division of Unclaimed Funds at (614) 466-4433 or go to
to search the online Treasure Hunt database.
- Q. I believe the company servicing my automobile lease
has overcharged me. Who do I contact?
- A. If the lease is serviced by a state-chartered or state-licensed financial institution, the Division may be able to help informally by referring your complaint, even though we have no specific authority over auto leases. If the servicer is not a company regulated by the Division, contact the Consumer Protection Section of the Ohio Attorney General's office at 614-466-8831.
- Q. I received a loan solicitation in the mail that
looks like a check. Is this legal? How can I prevent companies from
sending these solicitations to my home?
- A. Loan solicitations of this nature through the mail are legal as long as the lender is authorized to make loans in Ohio. Not all of the solicitations that look like checks are negotiable instruments and the Division receives very few allegations that consumers have been defrauded by criminals who acquire such solicitations not intended for them. You may be able to reduce mail and telephone solicitations by providing your name and/or telephone number to the associations listed below. They will remove the information from many, but not all, of the address and telephone number lists in circulation.
Direct Marketing Association
Mail Preference Service
P.O. Box 9008
Farmingdale, NY 11735
Direct Marketing Association
Telephone Preference Service
P.O. Box 9104
Farmingdale, NY 11735
- Q. Where do I file a complaint about my bank, savings
bank, savings & loan association, or credit union?
- A. If a bank, savings bank, savings & loan association, or credit union was chartered by the State of Ohio, the regulation of that financial institution falls within the jurisdiction of the Department of Commerce, Division of Financial Institutions (DFI).
DFI cannot address complaints against national banks, federal savings banks, federal savings & loan associations, or federal credit unions. If the financial institution has a national charter, the regulator will be either the Office of Comptroller of the Currency (banks), the Office of Thrift Supervision (savings banks or savings & loan associations), or the National Credit Union Administration (credit unions).
If your complaint is with a national bank (has the word "national" in its name or the letters "N.A." after the name), please contact:
Customer Assistance Group
Comptroller of the Currency
1301 McKinney Street, Suite 3710
Houston, TX 77010
If your complaint is with a federal savings bank or federal savings & loan association (has the word "federal" in its name or the letters "FSB" after the name), please contact:
Manager of Consumer Programs
Office of Thrift Supervision
10 Exchange Place, 18th Floor
Jersey City, NJ 07302
Telephone: (201) 413-1000
To file a complaint against a federal credit union (has the word "federal" in its name), contact:
National Credit Union Administration
1775 Duke Street
Alexandria, VA 22314-3428
Telephone: (703) 518-6300
- Q. What will DFI do about my complaint?
- A. Upon receipt, DFI will forward the complaint to the financial institution, and ask them to respond to you within 30 days with a copy to be forwarded to DFI. If a response is not received within 90 days, then a follow-up letter will be mailed to the financial institution.
- Q. What if the issue cannot be resolved with the assistance
- A. The financial institution will be asked to respond to your complaint, but DFI cannot guarantee that the response will be to your satifaction. If you are not satisfied with the financial institution's response, then you may need to seek legal advice.
- Q. Is my financial institution obligated to notify
me if my account is overdrawn?
- A. There is no requirement that a financial institution must notify a customer that the account is overdrawn. You may not know your account was overdrawn until you receive your monthly statement. The disclosure agreement will give the obligations of the financial institution for all areas of the deposit relationship, and the agreement may be silent with respect to a notification requirement for overdrafts.
- Q. What is the maximum amount that a financial institution
may charge for returned checks or overdrafts?
- A. Ohio does not have a statute which limits what a financial institution can charge.
Ohio does not have a statute which limits what a merchant can charge. A fee schedule, provided to the customer when opening a new accoutn, should specify the amount that may be charged.
- Q. Can a financial institution pay checks in any order
- A. There are no laws or regulations which govern the order of payment. Most financial institutions usually clear the larger checks first on the assumption this could be your mortgage or car payment. The financial institution's policy is usually stated in a rules and regulations brochure provided to customers during the opening of a new account.
- Q. When does my financial institution have to make
the funds I deposit available for my use?
- A. The funds availability notice must specifically state the availability periods for the various types of deposits that may be made to consumer accounts. The notice should be posted in a place where consumers making deposits are likely to see it before making their deposits, including ATMs. This notice is not required at drive-through teller windows or at night depository locations. The federal regulation [Regulation CC (12 CFR 229)] requires that the notice of funds availability be on the front of all preprinted deposit slips. The notice only needs to state that deposits may not be available for immediate withdrawal, and the notice does not have to be included on counter deposit slips and special deposit slips.
- Q. Can a financial institution charge a non-account
holder a fee to cash a check that is drawn on another financial
- A. Fees are charged according to language in the deposit agreement between the financial institution and the account holder that is normally provided when the account is opened. Ohio does not have a statute prohibiting a financial institution from charging this fee. The Uniform Commercial Code allows an agreement between the account holder and the financial institution in which it can charge the fees deemed necessary to administer the account.
- Q. Can I be charged a fee by a merchant to whom I
wrote a check if my check is returned to the merchant by the bank
for non-sufficient funds?
- A. Ohio law does not prohibit a merchant/retailer from charging a fee for returned checks. The bank's fee schedule, provided to the customer when opening a new account, should specify the amount that may be charged by the financial institution.
- Q. What is the maximum rate of interest that I can
be charged on my loan or credit card?
- A. Banks are prohibited from charging more than 25% annual percentage
rate. Revised Code 1109.20(A) states that "a bank may contract for and receive interest or finance charges at any rate or rates agreed upon or consented to by the parties to the loan contract, extension of credit, or revolving credit agreement, but not exceeding an annual precentage rate of 25%. In addition, a bank may charge, collect, and receive, as interest, other fees and charges that are agreed upon by the bank and the borrower, including, but not limited to, periodic membership fees, cash advance fees, charges for exceeding a designated credit limit, charges for late payments, charges for the return of a dishonored check or other payment instrument, guarantee fees, origination fees, processing fees, application fees, and prepayment fees. Any fees and charges charged, collected, or received by a bank in accordance with this division shall not be included in the computation of the annual percentage rate or the rates of interest or finance charges for purposes of applying the 25% limitation."
- Q. Is there a limit on delinquency charges/late fees
that can be charged on loans in the State of Ohio?
- A. Ohio does not have a statute which limits the amount of delinquency charges/late fees that can be charged on loans. The amounts of late charges that will be assessed are usually specified in the loan agreement between the financial institution (the lender) and the customer (the borrower).
- Q. Do my mortgage payments have to be 90 days delinquent
before foreclosure proceedings can begin?
- A. No, but refer to your loan contract or agreement. It should define when foreclosure proceedings may begin.
- Q. Does a financial institution have the right to
remove funds from a personal account without authorization or notification
in order to bring a loan current?
- A. This is known as the right to offset. If you have a personal account and a loan or another deposit account at the same financial institution, and you are delinquent in your loan payments or the account is overdrawn, the financial institution generally has a right to access your personal account without notification to you to bring the note current or the account positive. This is usually addressed in the loan agreement and/or depository contract.
- Q. What should I do if my bank hasn't released my
- A. Revised Code 5301.36(B) requires, "Within 90 days from the date of the satisfaction of a residential mortgage, the mortgagee shall record the fact of the satisfaction in the appropriate county recorder's office and pay any fees required for the recording." Revised Code 5301.36(C) requires that, "If the mortgagee fails to comply with 5301.36(B), the mortgagor may recover, in a civil action, damages of two hundred fifty dollars."
- Q. I need to get a mortgage lien released and the
original holder of the mortgage is no longer in business. If the
original lender has merged with another institution and possibly
merged again with a second financial institution, how do I find
out what institution holds the mortgage?
- A. Use the link below on the FDIC's web page to search for inactive financial institutions. Make sure to denote the institution's status as inactive.
DFI maintains historical information for state-chartered banks, savings banks, savings & laon associations, and credit unions and may be able to assist you in this regard. Please call (800) 321-3100 and leave the name and city of the financial isntitution you are seeking, as well as your name and telephone number so that we may contact you.
- Q. I am being contacted by a financial institution
for payments on a loan which is not mine. Is there anything I can
- A. If you are not a co-signor or a guarantor on the loan and you have notified the bank that it is contacting the wrong person, then you may file a complaint with DFI. If, however, you are the co-signor, guarantor or surety on the loan, then you are obligated to pay back the debt along with the primary borrower. How and when the bank may attempt collection of the debt from you are are dictated by the terms of the loan contract.
- Banks And Trusts
- Q. I am having problems with a credit
card issued by a bank in Delaware. Can you help me?
- A. No. We have regulatory authority only over banks and other depository institutions chartered and located in Ohio. The laws of the state in which the financial institution is headquartered generally govern credit card interest rates, fees and service charges. You should contact the Delaware Banking Department.
- Q. I deposited a check in my checking
account and the bank wouldn’t give me credit for 5 days. Is that
- A. Yes, depending on where the institution is that the check was drawn on. This is covered under the federal Expedited Funds Availability Act and Federal Reserve Regulation CC.
- Consumer Finance
- Q. The mortgage company has my mortgage
escrow account all messed up. What can I do?
- A. First mortgage loans from non-depository lenders are not regulated at
the state level. Complaints should be addressed to the Federal Trade
- Q. How do I check to see if my loan
officer is licensed?
- A. You can check to see if your loan officer is licensed or veify a license number they gave you by going to
- Q. How can I get a free copy of my
- A. A recent amendment to the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act requires each of the nationwide consumer reporting companies to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months. Go to
- Q. How do I file a complaint?
- A. You can file a complaint with the Division by going to
http://www.com.state.oh.us/dfi/ccmain.htm and following the instructions listed. Please note that the Division can only
investigate complaints against companies we regulate.
- Q. How do I know who regulates my
- A. This Division regulates state chartered depository institutions, including banks, credit unions, savings & loans
associations, and savings banks, domestic and foreign
money transmitters and certain non-depository financial
services, including: check cashers, check cash lenders, credit
service organizations, mortgage brokers & loan officers, pawnbrokers, premium finance insurance lenders, precious
metals dealers, small loan lenders and second mortgage lenders. You can check to see if you lender is regulated by the division
by going to https://elicense2-secure.com.ohio.gov/.
If your lender is not listed, you may need to check with the various federal regulators.
- Q. How can I find out if there have
been any complaints against my mortgage broker?
- A. Written complaints are considered investigations into the company's behavior
and by law [ORC 1322.061], complaints
are confidential. However, you can ask if there has been any
public action taken against the company. You may also want to
check with the Better Business Bureau to determine if they
have received any complaints.
- Q. My lender has raised my payments
even though I have a fixed rate mortgage. Can they do this?
- A. It is best to check your loan note to determine under what circumstances the lender can make changes to your payment.
Many times the change in payment amount when you are escrowing for your taxes and insurance is due to an increase in your yearly homeowner's insurance premium or property taxes. You will want to check with your lender to determine the specific reason for the increase.
- Q. I received a notice that my insurance
has not been paid for this year, but my lender pays it from my
escrow account. Can I just ignore the notice?
- A. Even though your lender is responsible for paying your premium, you are ultimately responsible for making sure that you have homeowner's insurance. If your insurance gets cancelled or the policy expires, the lender may purchase
insurance on the property on your behalf. These forced placed insurance premiums are usually two to three time what you
normally pay. If you receive notice that your premium has not been paid, contact your lender immediately to remedy the
- Q. I received a notice that my property
taxes have not been paid, but my lender pays it from my escrow
account. Can I just ignore the notice?
- A. Even though your lender is responsible for paying your property taxes on time, you are ultimately responsible for making sure that they are paid. If your taxes are not paid, the county which you live in may consider foreclosing on your property. If you receive a notice, contact your lender immediately to remedy the situation.
- Q. I decided to use a different broker,
but my old broker wants me to pay for the appraisal they
had completed on my home. Can they require me to pay for it?
- A. The Division encourages borrowers to shop around for the best possible loan. If you have been working with a broker, but
decide to go to another company, you are not bound to use the
first broker's services. However, you may be required to pay
for any third party fees, such as an appraisal or credit report,
the mortgage broker company occurred on your behalf. Check with your broker before you begin working with them to
determine who will be responsible for third party fees and
always get their response in writing.
- Q. How can I prevent identity theft?
- A. You should be cautious if someone tries to obtain your name, date of birth, social security number, driver's license number, bank account number, or credit card information. The Federal Trade Commission maintains a central web site for information about identity theft that contains detailed information about how to protect yourself and what to do if you believe you are a victim of identity theft. Go to:
- Q. Why is there a delay in processing
my Loan Officer application?
- A. Although each application has its own merits, many Loan Officer applicants fail to have their fingerprints taken, a background check performed by an approved provider, and the results sent to the Division. The Division will not begin processing the application until all parts of the application have been submitted.
- Credit Unions
- Q. What is a credit union?
- A. A credit union is a nonprofit cooperative financial institution
organized and operated for the mutual benefit of its members. The members are the owners of the institution. The membership of a credit union is limited to groups having a
common bond of occupation or association or to groups within
a well-defined neighborhood, community, or rural district. A person cannot become a member of a credit union unless he or shee belongs to a group that is within a credit union's field
of membership. The field of membership is specified in a
credit union's charter or articles of incorporation. Because credit unions are nonprofit cooperatives, they are exempt from
from payment of federal and state income taxes.
- Q. What is a "corporate" credit union?
- A. A corporate credit union is a credit union whose field of membership consists of other credit unions. A corporate credit union provides services to credit unions. There is one corporate credit union in Ohio called Corporate One Credit Union.
- Q. What is the maximum rate of interest
my credit union can charge me for a loan?
- A. The Ohio Credit Union Act permits state-chartered credit unions to charge a rate not to exceed a twenty-five percent annual percentage rate.
- Q. How does a person join a credit
- A. A person can join a credit union if he or she is a member of a group that is eligible to join a credit union. A person must also meet other membershiop requirements of a credit union including the purchase of a qualifying membership share. The Ohio Credit Union League is a good source of information about credit unions and what fields of membership they serve.
- Savings And Loans / Savings Banks
- Q. Can you tell if a financial institution
is a savings and loan or a savings bank by its name?
- A. No. Regulations allow liberal naming conventions for both types of institutions. The only way to know is to ask the institution.
- Q. Can you tell if a savings and loan
has a state or federal charter by its name?
- A. No. The Office of Thrift Supervision no longer requires that federal thrifts use the word federal or the designation FSB in their names.
- Q. What is the difference between
an Ohio state-chartered savings and loan and an Ohio state-chartered
- A. Both are considered thrifts, but they are created and regulated by separate sections
of the Ohio Revised Code. These institutions are similar; however, state-chartered savings and loans have the Office of Thrift Supervision as their federal regulator, whereas state-chartered banks have the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation as their federal regulator.