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Frequently Asked Questions

Contains answers to the consumer questions most frequently posed to the Division of Financial Institutions. If you have a general question about overdraft fees, late charges, interest rates and more, please refer to this section before filing a complaint.

If you have a question or concern that is not addressed in this section, feel free to contact our agency by telephone at the numbers listed above or e-mail to: carthur@wvdob.org



OUR MOST FREQUENTLY ASKED CONSUMER QUESTIONS………..

Questions and Answers:

1. Where do I file a complaint about my financial institution?

The type and location of your financial institution determines what regulatory authority you should contact. IF the name of your financial institution includes NA, National or Federal, then see the responses to questions 4, 5, and 6 of the list below to determine which federal agency is the regulatory authority for your financial institution and where to lodge your complaint. You will also find references to the federal regulatory authorities in the RESOURCES page of our website.

The West Virginia Division of Financial Institutions regulates only state chartered and licensed financial institutions

The FIRST step in addressing problems or concerns is contacting a customer service representative at your financial institution. Problems or misunderstandings are often resolved directly by the financial institution. For this reason we ask that you first try to resolve your problem with your financial institution representative.

If you do not get a satisfactory response, call us at 1-800-642-9056 or E-mail to carthur@wvdob.org.

Consumer Complaints -Click here to obtain the Consumer Complaint Form necessary for filing a complaint with the West Virginia Division of Financial Institutions. No action will be taken to resolve your complaint until a writtencomplaint with original signature is received. Complaints received by e-mail or fax will not be accepted.

2. What will the Division of Financial Institutions do about my complaint?

The Division of Financial Institutions is authorized to act in a limited capacity in assisting consumers resolve complaints and other issues with financial institutions under its supervisory authority.

Within two (2) weeks of receipt of your written complaint we will contact the financial institution, requesting their input and assessment of your situation. We will notify you after the institution responds. If your complaint involves an institution not regulated by this agency, we may refer your complaint to another agency. If so, we will notify you.

3. What if the issue cannot be resolved with the assistance of the Division of Financial Institutions?

Many complaints stem from factual or contractual disputes between the financial institution and the customer. Only a court can determine the truth of a matter of law and resolve those disputes and award damages. If we find that your case involves such a dispute, we will suggest that you consult an attorney for assistance.

4. What if I have a complaint about a national bank operating within West Virginia?

National banks are chartered, regulated and supervised by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). Banks whose names contain the word "national" or are followed by the initials NA are national banks. The OCC has six (6) district offices throughout the United States.

If you have a complaint against a national bank in West Virginia, you may call the OCC at 1-800-613-6743 or send a written complaint to the Comptroller’s Office at the following address:


Comptroller of the Currency
Customer Assistance Group
1301 McKinney Street, Suite 3710
Houston, Texas 77010

or FAX (713) 336-4301.

5. What if I have a complaint about a federally chartered credit union operating within West Virginia?

Federal Credit Unions are chartered, regulated and supervised by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA). If you have a complaint against a federal credit union in the state of West Virginia, you may call the NCUA at (703) 838-0401 OR send a written complaint to:


Region IV Division of Supervision
4225 Naperville Road
Suite 125
Lisle, IL 60532


6. What if I have a complaint about a federal savings bank or federal savings and loan operating within West Virginia?

Federal savings and loan companies and federal savings banks are chartered, regulated and supervised by the Office of Thrift Supervision. Banks whose names are followed by the initials FSB are federal savings banks. If you have a complaint against a federal savings and loan company or federal savings bank, you may call them toll free at 1-800-253-2181 OR send a written complaint to:


Office of Thrift Supervision
10 Exchange Place
New Jersey City, New Jersey 07302

7. What if I have a complaint about an out of state state chartered bank or credit union operating within West Virginia?

OFFICES IN WEST VIRGINIA - If you have a complaint against a financial institution chartered in another state, (which is not a national bank or federal credit union) that has an office in West Virginia, follow directions for complaints against state banks, credit unions and finance companies in West Virginia by filing a complaint with the West Virginia Division of Financial Institutions.

8. Are Pawnshops or Pawnbrokers regulated by the State of West Virginia?

No, Pawnshops and Pawnbrokers are not supervised and/or regulated by the State of West Virginia. Instead, they are required to have a license from the municipality or other local area government in which they operate. They are required to obtain a business license from the Secretary of State and register with the State Tax Division.

9. Are Mortgage brokers or lenders (who are not depository institutions) regulated by the State of West Virginia?

As of July 1, 2000, all mortgage lenders and brokers doing business in WV must have a license unless otherwise exempt. Complaints against these businesses may be submitted to the West Virginia Division of Financial Institutions. You may call us (in WV) at 1 (800) 642-9056 to inquire as to whether or not such a lender/broker is properly licensed.

10. Are Finance Companies in West Virginia regulated by the Division of Financial Institutions?

Yes, the Division of Financial Institutions actively examines and regulates finance companies referred to as 'Regulated Consumer Lenders" through Chapter 46A, Article 4 of the State Code.

11. What is the maximum amount that a bank or credit union may charge for returned checks or overdrafts?

There is no maximum amount that a financial institution may charge its customers for their returned checks or overdrafts. Financial institutions are allowed by law to establish their own internal policies with regard to overdraft charges for their own customers.

12. 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?

Yes, merchants in West Virginia may charge up to $25 for dishonored checks, drafts or orders. West Virginia State Code Chapter 61, Article 3, Section 39e allows the payee or holder to charge up to $25 for each check, draft or order that has been dishonored due to insufficient funds.

The merchant may also seek recovery of any fee incurred from its own bank for submitting the dishonored check and court costs once the merchant has filed a complaint in Magistrate Court.

13. Is there a limit on delinquency charges/late fees that can be charged on loans in the State of West Virginia?

There is a delinquency charge limit on installment loans made in West Virginia by West Virginia headquartered institutions.

For Installment Loans, the amount of the late charge is determined by whether or not your loan is a precomputed or nonprecomputed loan.

PRECOMPUTED LOANS - A loan is considered to be a precomputed installment loan if the payments are a scheduled, fixed amount that includes principal and interest AND the amount of interest payments will not vary as a result of the actual dates payments are made.

Traditional mortgage loans are a good example of a precomputed loan. No matter when your payment is made, the amount of interest does not vary from a pre-determined schedule.

Financial institutions may contract for a delinquency fee charge on precomputed loans in an amount of which is five (5) percent of the unpaid installment, not to exceed $15.

NONPRECOMPUTED LOANS – Nonprecomputed consumer loans are those loans that have installment payments that include interest and principal, AND have interest calculated according to the number of days since the last payment. All revolving loans, like credit cards, are nonprecomputed loans

Consumers with nonprecomputed loans may be assessed a delinquency charge in an amount of five (5) percent of the unpaid installment, not to exceed $15.

14. Can West Virginia control the amount of late fees charged by out-of-state credit cards?

No. Delinquency charges on credit cards are limited by what is allowed by statute in the state where the card was approved and issued. For instance, your VISA/MC may have been issued to you from Delaware. Even though you may reside in West Virginia, Delaware’s statute would apply with regard to delinquency charges on your credit card. Contact the regulatory authority in the state of issue to determine what, if any, limit on delinquency charges exists. Click here to go to a list of state regulators.

15. What are the maximum interest rates allowed in the State of West Virginia?

State law provides for maximum finance charges to be charged consumers in West Virginia by credit extending entities headquartered here. If a credit extending entity is located in another state, you may often be charged the rate legal in the other state. For instance, if a merchant is offering credit to you, please carefully read the loan documents to determine who the actual lender is and where the lender is headquartered.

In comparing your rate to those prescribed below, keep in mind that origination fees, investigation fees and other pre-paid finance charges MUST be included in the calculation of your total finance charges along with interest. Typically the addition of pre-paid finance charges has the affect of raising the cost of your loan.

Thus, the stated interest rate of your loan may be lower than the true cost of your loan, referred to as the annual percentage rate (APR).

Below is a recap of maximum finance charges OR Annual Percentage Rates (APR) allowed on loans issued in the State of West Virginia, by lenders in West Virginia.

Banks:

18% on all types of loans, i.e. car loans, personal loans, credit cards, lines of credit, etc. But note: Banks can claim parity with Regulated Consumer Lender rates discussed below and charge those rates.

Credit Unions:

18% on all types of loans, i.e. car loans, personal loans, credit cards, lines of credit, etc.

Regulated Consumer Lenders (finance companies):

Loans of $2000 or less – 31% + fees

(Unless secured by real estate)

in which case - 27%

Loans from $2000 - $10,000 – 27%

Loans of $10,001 or more – 18%

Merchants:

25%

ALL OTHER LENDERS:

18% on all types of loans, i.e. car loans, personal loans, credit cards, lines of credit, etc.

Exceptions:

Various federal preemptions to state laws limiting interest rates exist. The two most common are rates governing credit cards issued by out-of-state banks, and first lien mortgage loans by banks and large mortgage lenders. Federal law prohibits most states from limiting the maximum interest rate on loans secured by a first lien on real estate. There are limited exceptions.

16. When does the bank/credit union have to make the funds I deposit available for my use?

The type of funds deposited determines when a bank/credit union must make your money available for use. Federal Reserve Board Regulation CC identifies when various deposits must be made available for use.

Reg. CC defines business days as Mondays through Fridays except for federal holidays. A banking day is any business day (up to the bank’s cut-off hour) when your institution is open for substantially all transactions.

In general the following types of deposits must be made available on the first business day following the banking day of deposit ("next-day availability"):

Cash deposited in person to an employee of the institution.

Electronic payments received by the institution.

United States Treasury checks in your account.

U.S. Postal Service money orders deposited in person to your account.

State and local government checks deposited in person to your account.

Cashier’s, certified or teller’s checks deposited in person to an employee of the institution and into the account of the payee.

Checks drawn on an account at your institution (on-us checks).

Institutions may hold funds and delay availability of deposits containing all other types of checks for up to eleven (11) days.

Note: For deposits of checks that contain non-"next-day" checks, the first $100 must receive next-day availability.

If you have a question concerning your bank’s policy concerning holds on accounts, please feel free to call us at 1-800-642-9056 or send E-mail to Christopher Arthur.

17. Is it legal to charge a debtor a collection fee or fees in West Virginia?

West Virginia State Code Chapter 46A, Article 2, Section128(c) prohibits a lender from charging the debtor collection fees.

18. Who can I call if a collector is harassing me?

Enforcement of the West Virginia Consumer Credit and Protection Act is the responsibility of the West Virginia State Attorney General’s Office. Contact that agency at (304) 558-8986 in order to file a complaint.

However, if your financial institution was chartered or licensed by the West Virginia Division of Financial Institutions, you may file a complaint with this agency. Call us at 1-800-642-9056 to discuss your situation or click here to go to the consumer complaint form necessary to file a formal complaint.

19. Do I have to be notified in advance before a financial institution can repossess my vehicle?

Before any financial institution takes possession of collateral, a Right-To-Cure-Default Notice must generally be sent, giving the consumer ten (10) days to bring the loan current. However, no notice need be given if the consumer has previously been given three or more notices of nonpayment or if the consumer fails to maintain required insurance coverage. There is no requirement of notice at the actual time of repossession.

20. Do my mortgage payments have to be 90 days delinquent before foreclosure proceedings can begin?

No, but refer to your mortgage contract or agreement. It usually defines when foreclosure proceedings may begin.

21. How long does a West Virginia bank hold funds before they must be declared dormant and transferred to the State Treasurer's Office?

West Virginia Code Chapter 36, Article 8, Section 2 defines the time frames required for funds to be declared abandoned. There are different time frames for different types of funds.

Non-interest bearing funds, such as in a checking account are considered unclaimed after five (5) years of inactivity. Funds in interest bearing accounts, such as savings accounts, are considered abandoned after seven (7) years of inactivity.

22. How can I locate my funds that have been transferred to the state because of no activity on the account?

The West Virginia State Treasurer’s Unclaimed Property Office is responsible for receiving and maintaining morgaged personal property and properties that have been declared abandoned to the state.

You may contact them by calling on their toll free Unclaimed Property Number at 1-800-642-8687.

23. Who do I call to report a forged check on my account? And what if my financial institution does not agree that forgery took place?

Report the incident to your financial institution immediately. The institution may agree and make restitution. However, the Uniform Commercial Code does place limits on the amount of time that a consumer has to notify the bank of a forgery, so it is important you open your bank or credit union statement as quickly as possible after receipt and reconcile the statement to your own records! Further the Uniform Commercial Code places a burden of due course on both the bank and its customer. Thus, even if there is clearly forgery on your account, the bank may refuse restitution if you didn't fufill your responsibility to take care of your checkbook and supplies of checks.

If the financial institution does not agree that the signature on your check is a forgery, you must resolve this issue through the court system. In this event, we suggest you seek the advice of legal counsel.

The West Virginia Division of Financial Institutions has no legal authority to resolve forgery and fraud issues.

24. What are the current interest rates for the Lending and Credit Rate Board?

WV Lending and Credit Rate Board ORDER

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