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Consumer Reports finds biggest problem with online-only banks: Customer service

How to get your bank’s attention when something isn’t right

Although online-only banks can be popular alternatives to traditional brick-and-mortar branches, getting ahold of someone if there's a problem with your account may be difficult.
Although online-only banks can be popular alternatives to traditional brick-and-mortar branches, getting ahold of someone if there's a problem with your account may be difficult.

Consumer Reports says online-only banks can be popular alternatives to traditional brick-and-mortar branches -- as they offer things like no overdraft fees and early pay options.

But if a problem arises with your account, you can’t just walk into a branch, and Consumer Reports found that getting in touch with someone to assist you may be difficult.

“If you need help, reaching an actual human at the company to help you may not be easy,” said Octavio Blanco, who writes about personal finance for Consumer Reports.

Blanco says if you find yourself needing to get an issue resolved with your online-only account, you might have to get creative.

“Try to find the company’s main number online and ask to speak to the office of the CEO. Explain your situation clearly and remember to be nice no matter how frustrated or angry you get,” he suggested.

Another trick: Head to social media. Send a direct message to the company on Twitter instead of a public tweet.

“Give the company a chance to fix the problem before you make a scene publicly. They may appreciate that, and it may give you a quicker and more helpful response,” Blanco explained.

Chime, the biggest online-only bank, told Consumer Reports that the company plans to offer full 24/7 customer service.

If you’re still having problems contacting someone, you can file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. And if you feel you’ve gotten bad service, make sure you report it to the Better Business Bureau.

Consumer Reports says before you choose a service, it’s always a good habit to check the BBB website to see what consumers are saying about the company you’re planning to use.