How to File a Complaint with the Banking Ombudsman: A Step-by-Step Guide

12 min read • Updated 11 January 2024
Written by Piyush Mohta

Every consumer must be aware of the Banking Ombudsman as it is the platform where they can lodge a complaint regarding their banking issues. When a bank does not respond to the consumers regarding their issues, then they can get help from this scheme, which the RBI sets up for the consumers.


Now let’s discuss this scheme in detail, how you can file complaints, and all other information regarding it. Let’s get started!

What is The Banking Ombudsman Scheme?

The Banking Ombudsman Scheme is a grievance redressal scheme implemented by RBI to resolve complaints about certain services rendered by banks.

The Banking Ombudsman Scheme, started by the Reserve Bank of India under Section 35 A of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949 and introduced in 1995, has been under the Integrated Ombudsman Scheme since 2021. This new setup combines the earlier Banking Ombudsman Scheme 2006 (As amended upto July 1, 2017) The Ombudsman Scheme for NBFC’s, 2018; and The Ombudsman Scheme for Digital Transactions, 2019 into one streamlined system for handling customer complaints about banking services.

The Integrated Ombudsman Scheme 2021

The Integrated Ombudsman Scheme, introduced by the Reserve Bank of India in 2021, represents a significant leap in customer service and grievance redressal. Here’s a streamlined overview:

  1. Unified Platform: Merges three former schemes into one, simplifying the complaint process.
  • Banking Ombudsman Scheme, 2006
  • Ombudsman Scheme for Non-Banking Financial Companies, 2018
  • Ombudsman Scheme for Digital Transactions, 2019
  1. Accessible to All: Covers complaints against a wide spectrum of financial service providers, including:
  • Banks
  • Non-banking financial Companies (NBFCs)
  • Payment System Participants
  • Credit Information Companies
  1. Efficient Resolution: Guarantees resolution of unresolved grievances for over 30 days.
  1. ‘One Nation One Ombudsman’: No geographical restrictions; complaints can be raised anywhere in India.
  1. Zero Cost: Filing a complaint is free, ensuring there are no financial barriers for customers.
  1. Online CMS Portal: Available 24/7 for complaint submission and real-time tracking at https://cms.rbi.org.in/.
  1. Single Point of Contact: Submit physical or email complaints to a centralised address.
  1. Transparent Updates: Automatic acknowledgements and detailed updates on the complaint’s status.
  1. Enhanced Customer Experience:
  • Online submission of additional documents
  • Facility for voluntary feedback on the redressal process

Who is The Banking Ombudsman?

The Banking Ombudsman is a senior official appointed by RBI to resolve customer complaints against the shortcomings in stipulated banking services covered under the grounds of complaint specified under Clause 3(1)(g) of the RB-IOS, 2021.


As of date, twenty-two Banking Ombudsman have been appointed with their offices mostly in state capitals.

Financial Institutions Covered Under The Banking Ombudsman Scheme

Financial institutions of multiple natures are covered under the Banking Ombudsman Scheme. Let’s take a look at them:

Banks Covered Under RB-IOS, 2021:

  • All commercial banks, including:
  • Public Sector Banks
  • Private Sector Banks
  • Foreign Banks
  • Local Area Banks
  • Small Finance Banks
  • Payment Banks
  • Regional Rural Banks
  • Scheduled Primary (Urban) Co-operative Banks
  • Non-scheduled Primary (Urban) Co-operative Banks with a deposit size of ₹50 Crore and above

Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs):

  • All NBFCs (excluding Housing Finance Companies)
  • Must be authorised to accept deposits or have a customer interface
  • The asset size of ₹100 crore and above

Payment System Participants:

Includes both banks and non-banks regulated by RBI

Credit Information Companies:

  • Defined in the Companies Act, 2013
  • Must be granted a Certificate of Registration under the Credit Information Companies (Regulation) Act, 2005

Exclusions:

  • Core Investment Companies
  • Infrastructure Debt Fund-NBFCs
  • NBFC – Infrastructure Finance Companies
  • Companies undergoing financial restructuring or closure.

Banking Ombudsman: Grounds of Complaint

As per the notification issued by the RBI under Integrated Ombudsman Scheme 2021, It will no longer be necessary for a complainant to identify under which scheme he/she should file a complaint with the Ombudsman. A complaint can be raised if it does not fall within the list of exclusions defined in the scheme.

List of the Exclusions

There are several exclusions when it comes to the grounds of complaints. Let’s take a look at all of them covered under the Integrated Scheme 2021:

Procedure Based Exclusions:

  • Issues not first reported to the concerned financial entity.
  • Complaints not directly sent to the Ombudsman.
  • Complaints lodged but not waited for 30 days for a response from the financial entity, except if the response received is unsatisfactory.
  • Complaints older than one year after getting or not getting a response.
  • Complaints already looked at or being processed by the Ombudsman.

Nature of Complaint Exclusions:

  • Complaints about decisions like loan approvals.
  • Disputes between a service provider and a financial entity.
  • General issues with a financial entity’s higher-ups.
  • Employee-employer problems within a financial entity.
  • Complaints that are just suggestions or asking for advice.

Jurisdictional and Legal Exclusions:

  • Complaints about things the RBI doesn’t control.
  • Disagreements between different financial entities.
  • Issues where a financial entity is following legal orders.
  • Matters already in court or resolved by other legal means.

Technical and Formal Exclusions:

  • Irrelevant, trivial, or not serious complaints.
  • Complaints filed too late, beyond the legal deadline.
  • Complaints missing important details or unclear.
  • Complaints made by a lawyer unless the lawyer is personally involved.

Therefore, the RBI has made it easy for your complaints to no longer be rejected simply because they are “not covered under the grounds listed in the scheme”.

Things you should be aware of before making a complaint

  1. Before making a complaint under the Scheme, make sure that you have a written complaint to the Regulated Entity concerned and – 

(i) The complaint was rejected wholly or partly by the Regulated Entity and the 

complainant is not satisfied with the reply, or the complainant has not received 

any reply within 30 days after the Regulated Entity received the complaint; 

(ii) the complaint is made to the Ombudsman within one year after the

 complainant has received the reply from the Regulated Entity to the

 complaint or, where no reply is received, within one year and 30 days from

 the date of the complaint. 

  1. The complaint is not in respect of the same cause of action, which is already –

(i) pending before an Ombudsman or settled or dealt with on merits by an Ombudsman, whether or not received from the same complainant or along with one or more complainants, or one or more of the parties concerned; 

(ii) pending before any Court, Tribunal Arbitrator or any other Forum or Authority; or settled or dealt with on merits by any Court, Tribunal or Arbitrator or any other Forum or Authority, whether or not received from the same complainant or along with one or more of the complainants/parties concerned; 

  1. You have to be sure that the complaint is not abusive, frivolous or vexatious in nature;
  2. Ensure that the complaint to the Regulated Entity was made before the expiry of the period of limitation prescribed under the Limitation Act, 1963, for such claims;
  3. Ensure that the complainant provides complete information as specified in the Scheme;
  4. Ensure the complaint is lodged by the complainant personally or through an authorised representative other than an advocate unless the advocate is aggrieved.

Here “Regulated Entity” means a bank or a Non-Banking Financial Company, or a System Participant or a Credit Information Company as defined in the Scheme, or any other entity as may be specified by the Reserve Bank from time to time; to the extent not excluded under the Scheme;

How To File a Complaint With the Banking Ombudsman Scheme?

If you’re experiencing difficulties with your bank and need to escalate the issue, the Banking Ombudsman Scheme provides a free and straightforward mechanism to lodge your complaint. Here’s how to make your voice heard and seek resolution:

  • Start by Contacting Your Bank:

Reach out to your bank with a written complaint first. If they don’t address your concern within one month, dismiss your complaint, or if you’re dissatisfied with their response, you can take your issue to the Banking Ombudsman.

  • Submitting Your Complaint:

You don’t need special forms to submit a complaint; a simple piece of paper will suffice, or you can opt for the convenience of online filing at RBI’s CMS portal or via email at crpc@rbi.org.in. It’s essential to include your name, address, and the details of the bank branch involved, alongside a clear description of the issue, any incurred loss, and the remedy you seek.

  • Documentation Is Key:

Attach copies of any relevant documents that support your claim. This could include correspondence with the bank, statements, or receipts. If filing electronically, take a printout of your submitted complaint for your records.

  • Know Where to File:

File your complaint with the Banking Ombudsman in whose jurisdiction the bank branch is located. For credit card and other centralized services, the complaint should be filed where the customer’s billing address is situated.

  • Follow-Up on Your Complaint:

After you submit your complaint, the Ombudsman may request additional information from your bank and conduct hearings to resolve the issue. They will update you on the progress and may contact you for further clarification.

  • Track Your Complaint:

Once you’ve filed your complaint, you can track its status online. You’ll receive an acknowledgement of your complaint, and typically, within 30 days, the Ombudsman will work towards a resolution.

  • Resolution Timeframe:

A complaint should be filed within one year and one month from when you first contacted your bank about the issue.

Rejection of The Complaint

The Banking Ombudsman can dismiss a complaint for various reasons, often relating to procedural issues or the nature of the complaint. Let’s take a look at why there are chances that your complaint might be rejected: 

  • Duplicate Proceedings:

If your issue is already being reviewed or resolved by any legal or dispute resolution entity, such as a court or arbitration tribunal, the Ombudsman will step back to avoid overlap in judicial processes.

  • Insufficient Grounds or Diligence:

A complaint that appears to lack a solid basis or hasn’t been followed up with the necessary persistence and attention by the complainant might be set aside.

  • No Impact Demonstrated:

In instances where it seems that the complainant hasn’t experienced any significant harm, inconvenience, or financial setback due to the actions (or inactions) of the bank, the Ombudsman might conclude that the complaint doesn’t warrant further action.

Complainants must ensure that their case is presented with clear evidence of the harm suffered and that all other places for resolution have been exhausted or are not simultaneously in motion. This focus helps maintain the efficiency and effectiveness of the Ombudsman’s role in resolving banking disputes.

Tracking Your Complaint 

When you sign up on the RBI website for grievances and complaints, you are given a unique complainant number linked to your profile. Once you enter the portal for tracking your complaint, enter your complainant number and the captcha properly to view the status of your complaint and track its progress. 

Filing an Appeal 
There can be instances where you, as a complainant, might not be happy with the decision or successive action from the Ombudsman. In this scenario, you can file an appeal to better address your complaint. To do that, you must visit the tracking portal and fill in the necessary details to file an appeal.

Final word

The Banking Ombudsman Scheme is a valuable resource for consumers to resolve disputes with their banks. If you have a complaint against your bank, it’s important to know your rights and the steps to take to file a complaint through the scheme. Remember to keep records of all correspondence and documentation related to your complaint. This will be helpful in making your case to the ombudsman.

FAQs

Can I file a complaint against a foreign bank operating in India?

Yes, the Banking Ombudsman Scheme applies to foreign banks operating in India as well. Hence, you can file complaints against foreign banks also.

Are there any fees associated with filing a complaint?

No, the Banking Ombudsman Scheme is a free service provided by the Reserve Bank of India.

What kind of compensation can I expect if my complaint is resolved in my favour?

The compensation awarded by the ombudsman can include reimbursement of charges/fees, payment of interest, and/or compensation for mental agony and harassment.

Are there any fees associated with filing a complaint?

No, the Banking Ombudsman Scheme is a free service provided by the Reserve Bank of India.

What kind of compensation can I expect if my complaint is resolved in my favour?

The compensation awarded by the ombudsman can include reimbursement of charges/fees, payment of interest, and/or compensation for mental agony and harassment.

What steps does the Ombudsman follow to address my banking complaint?

Upon receiving your complaint, the Banking Ombudsman initiates a review process, typically concluding within 30 to 60 days based on the intricacies of your case. The goal is to ensure a fair and reasonable resolution.

If I disagree with the Ombudsman’s decision, what’s my next step?

Should the Ombudsman’s resolution not align with your expectations, you can file an appeal. This should be directed to the Appellate Authority within the scheme, allowing for a second review of your grievance.

For a complaint to be lodged with the Ombudsman, what criteria must be met?

Your complaint should concern service shortcomings directly tied to the banking services as defined by the RBI guidelines. Before lodging a complaint, check the specified grounds to ensure your issue is eligible.

Is there a time limit to bring my banking service issue to the Ombudsman?

To ensure timely resolution, approach the Ombudsman within one year of receiving the bank’s final response or 13 months from raising the issue with your bank, whichever comes first.

Was this helpful?

Piyush Mohta

Credit Principal
CA with 10+ years of experience in Banking in SME and wholesale/start-up lending. Previously worked with UC inclusive, TATA capital, Kotak Bank. Underwritten/Managed loan book of 2500 Cr+

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