Today, April 1, 2015, a Proper Conduct of Banking Business directive on handling public enquiries comes into effect.[1]The Directive requires banking corporations to handle complaints from their customerseffectively by establishing the status, responsibility, and function of Ombudsman at the banking corporations and at the systems subordinate to them. Its objective is to ensure banking corporations’ fair and efficient handling of complaints by their customers, and to maintain a high level of fairness in bank-customer relations.
The Directive sets out, among other things, regulations in the following areas:
·     The status and function of Ombudsman in a banking corporation, and of a dedicated function that is responsible for handling public complaints;
·     The handling of public complaints, including the time frame (45 days), content and quality of the responses to be given to the customer;
·     Deriving lessons from material deficiencies in the handling of complaints;
·     Detailed reporting to the Board of Directors, management, the public, and the Banking Supervision Department.
If a customer’s complaint has not been handled by the banking corporation to the customer’s satisfaction, or has not been answered at all within the time period set out, or if the customer complains over the nature of the response, the customer is able to approach the Banking Supervision Department to request that the case be examined.As experience has shown that most complaints can be resolved more efficiently by an internal ombudsman, and in order for emphasis to be placed by the Public Enquiries Unit at the Banking Supervision Department on the handling of complaints with a material nature that impact on many customers, it is set out that exhausting the clarification process within the banking corporation (which, as noted, is subject to a time limitation) is a precondition for submitting a complaint to the Banking Supervision Department.
The Banking Supervision Department will continue to use the range of its authorities in order to supervise and control how the banking corporations handle customer complaints, including the examination of particular complaints, analysis of reports, deriving systemic lessons, and publication of data.
Supervisor of Banks David Zaken said, “The fair and efficient handling of public complaints is an essential component of ensuring the public’s trust in the banking system.I expect that the implementation of these measures will improve the service provided to the public by the banking system, and that it will lead to the rapid and efficient resolution of disputes between the banks and their customers.”
Information about the Public Enquiries Unit, how complaints are handled, and contact information for the ombudsmen at the banking corporations can be found on the Bank of Israel’s website.We recommend viewing the consumer guides on the Bank of Israel’s website, including information on a variety of topics related to bank-customer relations.

[1] The function of handling public complaints is arranged in Proper Conduct of Banking Business Directive number 308A “Handling of Public Complaints”, and in Circular number C-06-2434.The Directive and the Circular can be viewed on the Bank of Israel’s website.