The Banking Supervision Department last year handled a total of 4,176 complaints and 3,092 inquiries by banking customers, of which just over 25 percent were found justified, forcing the five largest banks to make over NIS 15 million in reimbursements, the Bank of Israel said Wednesday.
In response to the Banking Supervision Department's treatment of the public's complaints, the banks were asked to make reimbursements to a total of 34,000 customers. The total compensation paid out on account of specific complaints was about NIS 2.3m., while the division's handling of complaints in cases related to early paybacks of loans, calculation of interest, and application of bank charges, forced the banks to make NIS 13m. in reimbursements to customers.
The central bank's report revealed that the latter reimbursements were to a large extent paid by Bank Hapoalim on account of upward rounding of the LIBOR rate (or London Interbank Offered Rate) to the nearest one-eighth percentage point without due disclosure to customers.
Among the country's five biggest banks, Mizrahi-Tefahot had the highest share of complaints that were found to be justified with 31.1%, up from 27.9% in 2005, followed by Israel Discount Bank with 31%, up from 29% in 2005. In third place, was Bank Hapoalim with 27.4%, down from 30.3% in 2005, while at First International Bank 23.1% of the complaints were found to be justified in 2006 compared with 25.4% in the previous year. Bank Leumi had the smallest proportion of justified complaints, at 16.5% against 16.1% in 2005.
The main areas of complaints were housing loans, bank- account management, checks, bank charges, and credit.