Review of Public Enquiries and measures to protect banking customers, 2018

 

The Banking Supervision Department is publishing its Review of Public Enquiries for 2018. The review also presents summary information regarding the Department's additional activity to protect banking customers through various means, such as regulation, public information, and specific activities to strengthen unique population groups.

 

In order to ensure fair, professional, and quality service to the banking system's customers, the Banking Supervision Department uses a variety of tools and channels available to it, chiefly the Public Enquiries Unit.  Customers of the banks and credit card companies can approach the Banking Supervision Department to look into complaints, if their enquiry with the banking corporations' ombudsmen has not been answered to their satisfaction.  The Unit handles enquiries and complaints on the individual level, as well as by examining broad issues that are raised in a number of enquiries, and handling those issues with the entire system.

 

Main aggregate data regarding the Public Enquiries Unit's handling of public complaints

 

In 2018, the Public Enquiries Unit in the Banking Supervision Department received about 8,400 written enquiries. In addition, it responded to more than 15,000 calls received at its call center. Its involvement in complaints led to a remedy for the customer in roughly 25 percent of the complaints that it clarified with the banking corporations or credit card companies. 

 

As part of the Banking Supervision Department’s handling of these enquiries, the banking corporations and credit card companies issued compensation to customers totaling about NIS 8.6 million, of which about NIS 3.4 million was due to settlements and decisions regarding individual complaints, and about NIS 5.2 million was repaid in broad files where payments were made to customer groups pursuant to the Department's instructions.

 

In recent years, there has been a significant upward trend in the quantity of complaints and enquiries to the Banking Supervision Department. There has been a similar trend in enquiries and complaints submitted to the banking system in general.  This shows that the public is increasingly aware of its rights in areas of banking and its desire to maximize those rights. The Banking Supervision Department encourages this, and the accessibility and publications of the Public Enquiries Unit and of the Ombudsman's offices at the banks are influencing this trend.

 

The main issues of concern to the public, as shown by the complaints dealt with by the Banking Supervision Department were quality of service, means of payment, and current accounts.  These issues reflect the main interfaces between the customer and the bank or credit card company.  The survey provides details of legislative initiatives in these areas that are intended to improve service and protect customer rights.

 

In the past year, the Banking Supervision Department worked to enhance consumer-related enforcement as an additional tool to ensure that the banks dealt properly with their customers. In this framework, the Department imposed six monetary sanctions on the banks and credit card companies in 2018 and the first half of 2019, totaling about NIS 4.7 million, in respect of significant consumer defects found as a result of complaints and information from the public and the media.  The sanctions were imposed for deficiencies in the following areas: not publishing a warning when marketing consumer credit; contravening the Public Enquiries Unit's position regarding sending checks by mail, and not crediting customers for unsuccessful withdrawals from the bank's ATM machines.

 

The handling of public complaints by the ombudsmen of the banks and the credit card companies

The banks and credit card companies are required to allocate proper resources for handling complaints by their customers, through ombudsmen's offices.  For this purpose, guidelines are issued and audits are conducted concerning quality of service and how complaints are handled.


The ombudsmen across the banking system responded to about 26,000 written customer complaints during the reviewed year.  This represents an increase of about 19 percent compared with 2017, when about 22,000 complaints were handled.  As part of the ombudsmen's handling of complaints, refunds totaling about NIS 8.5 million were made to customers.

 

The survey presents main indices of the quality of handling complaints by the banking system, in relation to the five large banks:

1.      The ratio between each bank's share of complaints and requests handled by the Banking Supervision Department and its share of the system – Bank Mizrahi Tefahot was ranked first in this index, with the lowest rate of complaints and requests handled by the Public Enquiries Unit relative to its share of the banking system.

2.      Rate of cases in which the bank acted in the enquirer's benefit even though the complaint was not found to be justified – Bank Leumi was found to be the best bank in this area, similar to the result in 2017.

3.      Response time to public complaints by the ombudsmen of the banking corporations – Bank Mizrahi Tefahot and Bank Leumi were found to be the best in this index, with about 98 percent of complaints submitted to them answered within 30 days.

 

 

Supervisor of Banks Dr. Hedva Ber said, “The information received from the public enables the Banking Supervision Department to identify and handle broad issues, and thereby to increase customers' satisfaction with the banking system as a whole.  In the past year, the Banking Supervision Department acted to increase consumer-related enforcement as an additional tool to ensure that the banks deal properly with their customers.  As part of this, we conducted initiated enforcement actions that led to the imposition of monetary sanctions on the banks and credit card companies in respect of consumer-related violations, and to find and correct broad deficiencies.

 

"In addition, I invited the public to learn about the Banking Supervision Department's main activities to protect banking customers, particularly its activity to empower and protect special population groups, such as victims of violence through the 'Banking Availability' accord, the Department's activity to empower senior citizens in the transition to digital services, and more.”

 

The Public Enquiries Unit in the Banking Supervision Department is open to the public for any issue connected with the public’s relationship with the banks and credit card companies.  For more information, or to submit complaints on banking consumer issues, please contact the Unit through the following options.

 

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