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The Banking Ombudsman

Public service announcement

Reproduced from the New Sunday Express, January 15, 2006

Very few people know that there is an ombudsman to address unresolved grievances against their bank – fraudulent withdrawals, interest rate disputes on deposits, payment delays, refusal to accept small denomination notes, basically anything. The banking ombudsman used to only deal with complaints related to banking transactions. Last month, the RBI expanded their scope of inquiry to also cover credit and debit cards; banks reneging on promises made by their DSAs (direct selling agents); charges levied by banks without prior intimation; misbehavior by bank staff.

What the ombudsman essentially does is offer a common forum to a complainant and the bank.

If you have a grievance against your bank, approach the ombudsman within whose jurisdiction the bank branch is located. You can file your complaint in person, through a letter, over the phone and, soon, even online. You are asked to file a simple form and attach the relevant documents. Even if you can’t make the complaint in person, you can authorise a representative to do so provided he’s not a lawyer. Although complaints that exceed one year from the date of occurrence are not accepted, sometimes allowances are made.

Next, the ombudsman informs the bank about the complaint. Around 30 per cent of the cases get resolved at this level. If a case is unresolved, the ombudsman gets the bank and the complainant together. If that too doesn’t work, the ombudsman does his inquiry; if he finds the bank guilty, he issues an award. Depending on the circumstances of the case, the award can be in the form of monetary compensation. However, an ombudsman is not authorized to ask a bank to pay more than Rs 10 lakh.

The complainant is required to acknowledge the award and submit it to the bank within 30 days (including a grace period of 15 days). Better make sure the bank acknowledges the award, as non-acceptance will require you to get another letter from the ombudsman. The bank is then given a month to either obey the verdict or appeal to the RBI. The entire process generally takes around six months.

– Deepti Bhaskaran

How to contact the Ombudsman?


Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry, Andaman & Nicobar


Andhra Pradesh

Kerala, Lakshadweep

4 thoughts on “The Banking Ombudsman

  1. Dear Sir
    complaining about my cheque being lost and withdrwan by some other person. The actual issue is that i have lost a ORDER CHEQUe of Rs.25000 . without signature on the backside ,I want to know .propriter signature on the backside cheque need or not, at non base branch, and banker want to take that third party identity proof copy,or not please tell me sir my cell no -9844050229 /9448159120
    your faithfully

  2. Hi Tanveer,

    You would have to conatct the relevant ombudsman at the contact numbers given in the article. Have you already done that? I am afraid, I don’t have any knowledge on the particular matter you have outlined.

  3. dear sir,
    1. I have taken an ICICI Bank Credit card (Bearing number 4477 4605 6296 ….) on bank’s request under the free ICICI credit card scheme in the Year 2003 and kept the same till December 2007.

    2. Iperformed various transactions during the aforesaid mentioned period and made regular payments in lieu of the usage of the said Credit card to the bank, well in time soon after the transactions.

    3. i have not made any other transaction out of that Credit card, and the same is surrendered to the bank in the year 2007, with all dues being duly paid well in time.

    4. Then the bank started sending the statements of the abovementioned Credit card, along with the late fees and other charges, just to harass me and to extort money from me unlawfully despite the fact that i am not liable to pay you any amount and the bank is not entitled to claim any amount from me in regard to the above mentioned credit card.

    5. the i tried to communicate to bank through correspondence and telephonic calls which is duly received by their office requesting them to do the needful in the matter, but the bank instead of taking appropriate and purposeful action, have started harassing me by giving me telephone calls from their collection office (gundas) to make the payment immediately otherwise ready to face the consequences, or sometimes people from bank office pretending them to be the advocates and trying to threaten me by telling me that warrants against me are in their hands and if i’ll not pay the amount they will send me behind bars and trying to pressurize me by sending me fake statements of my credit card account.

    6. That to my sudden shock and disbelief on 24th day of October 2008 my bank have credited my saving account with ICICI Bank Ltd (S.B. A/C No. 00870103….) with Rs.58, 314/- (Rupees Fifty Eight Thousand Three Hundred Fourteen only) without my consent, permission and prior approval.
    now the bank personnels have withdrawn Rs. 10,000/- from my saving account in lieu of payment of my credit card.
    i’ll request you to kindly guide me in this matter.
    yours truely

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