In the event of problems with a bank or a financial intermediary, a customer can submit a complaint directly to the intermediary.
All intermediaries are required to have a complaints office, which must respond to customers within 60 days of receiving a complaint relating to banking operations and services (the response period has been raised from 30 to 60 days and will apply to complaints received from the 1st October 2020). The complaint handling time frames is reduced to 15 business days for the response to complaints concerning payment services. Information on contact details and how to submit a complaint is usually available on the intermediary's website.
If a customer does not receive a response within the stipulated deadline or is not satisfied with the reply, they can contact:
- one of the alternative dispute settlement systems provided for by law, such as the Banking and Financial Ombudsman (ABF);
- the judicial authorities.
The ABF has been operative since 2009 and is an alternative system for settling disputes between intermediaries and customers. If the complaint falls within the jurisdiction of the ABF, it can be dealt with in a short time and at a low cost (€20). Information on how the system works and how to submit a complaint is available on the ABF website.
A customer can also contact the Bank of Italy by submitting a complaint free of charge and with no need for legal assistance.
What is it?
Submitting a complaint to the Bank of Italy allows customers to report:
- behaviours on the part of banks and financial intermediaries that they deem to be irregular or wrong;
- irregularities in the information held in the Central Credit Register (CR) or in the Interbank Register of Bad Cheques and Payment Cards (CAI).
Complaints are a source of information for the Bank of Italy, also for its supervisory work. Pursuant to Law 241/1990, submitting a complaint does not start an administrative procedure.
What the Bank of Italy can do when it receives a complaint
When the Bank of Italy receives a complaint, it:
- usually sends a copy to the intermediary and invites it to respond to the customer promptly and thoroughly and, at the same time, informs the customer that their report has been received;
- gathers useful information for carrying out its regulatory and control functions and for financial education and, more generally speaking, for consumer protection.
In the event that the Bank of Italy has no competence to deal with a complaint received, it forwards the complaint to the competent authority, and informs the customer that it has done so.
What the Bank of Italy cannot do when it receives a complaint
It is important to know that the Bank of Italy:
- does not make any decision concerning the contractual relations between the intermediary and the customer as for example the ABF can, nor does it make any evaluation concerning the autonomy of individual intermediaries, such as the granting of a loan;
- does not inform individual customers of the results of any supervisory action or investigations involving intermediaries;
- does not usually respond to complaints on issues already submitted to the judicial authorities;
- does not take into consideration any reports that are submitted again, unless there are significant new elements.
It is useful to know that the Bank of Italy provides a general account of its activities, with a precise report on the results achieved and the resources used in the Report on Operations and Activities of the Bank of Italy.
Who can submit a complaint
A customer of an Italian bank or of another financial intermediary, duly registered on the Supervisory registers and lists, who intends to report irregular or wrong behaviour concerning transactions and banking products and services or to dispute a report made by an intermediary to the Central Credit Register (CR) or to the Interbank Register of Bad Cheques and Payment Cards (CAI).
It is useful to know that those responsible for the correctness of the reports sent to the CR and the CAI are banks, financial companies and payment card issuers, and customers can directly ask them to correct any mistakes found. If the Bank of Italy is notified of any mistakes in the data collected, it asks the banks, financial companies and payment card issuers to verify and correct the information.
How to submit a complaint
The complaint must contain a specific issue, either regarding possible irregular or wrong behaviour in the provision of a product or service by an intermediary, or referring to a report to the CR or to the CAI that may be incorrect.
To submit a complaint you have to:
- identify yourself by means of: SPID, a certified electronic signature, a legible copy of a valid identity document or a certified email address (PEC); in the latter case, if the complaint concerns an irregularity in the information held by the CR or the CAI, you still have to attach a legible copy of a valid identity document;
- indicate the intermediary or intermediaries involved, if known;
- briefly and clearly summarize the reason for the complaint.
The Bank of Italy does not consider the following as complaints: requests for data, information and advice, quesiti normativi ('questions on laws and regulations' - not available in English) and requests with no indication of any alleged irregular behaviour on the part of an intermediary.
To submit a complaint to the Bank of Italy you can use:
- the 'Online services' platform; choose the 'Submit a complaint' box, which shows customers how to submit a complaint in a simple way and free of charge.
- e-mail from a certified email address (PEC) or a standard email;
- regular mail;
- hand delivery at one of the Bank of Italy Branches that offers this service.
If you use the 'Online services platform', the complaint is sent directly to the competent Bank of Italy branch. Otherwise, the complaint has to be delivered or sent to the Bank of Italy branch located in the region where the intermediary has its headquarters. To find out where an intermediary's headquarters are located, you can consult the Supervisory registers and lists.
The Bank of Italy offices responsible for coordinating and managing complaints are:
- Consumer Protection Directorate, for complaints from customers concerning irregular or wrong behaviour on the part of banks and financial intermediaries;
- Retail Payment Instruments and Services Directorate, for complaints concerning irregularities in the information held by the CAI;
- Statistical Data Collection and Processing Directorate, for complaints concerning irregularities in the information held by the CR.
Consumer Protection Directorate
Via Milano 64, 00184 Rome
Certified email address (PEC): firstname.lastname@example.org
Retail Payment Instruments and Services Directorate
Via Nazionale 75, 00184 Rome
Certified email address (PEC): email@example.com
Statistical Data Collection and Processing Directorate
Largo Guido Carli 1, 00044 Frascati
Certified email address (PEC): firstname.lastname@example.org