What doesn't BaFin do?
BaFin supervises banks and financial services providers, private insurance undertakings and securities trading. BaFin is also responsible for collective consumer protection in these areas. However, there are legal limitations to the extent to which BaFin is allowed to assist customers. Find out the topics and queries with which BaFin will not be able to help and who to contact instead here.
Supervision of private insurance undertakings only
The only insurance undertakings subject to BaFin's supervision are private ones. If you have any questions or complaints regarding statutory health or long-term care insurance, the Federal (Social) Insurance Office (Bundesversicherungsamt) may be able to help. It also supervises statutory pension and accident insurance undertakings. You may also have to contact the authorities of the individual federal states if an issue falls under their competence.
Legal limitations to information from BaFin
There are a number of questions that BaFin is not allowed to answer for legal reasons. For instance, BaFin may not make any recommendations and only in exceptional cases is BaFin allowed to warn consumers about particular companies.
BaFin therefore cannot and will not tell you where to obtain the most affordable loans or which bank will pay the highest interest rates on savings, for example. BaFin may not make recommendations regarding which shares you should buy or not buy, either.
Similarly, BaFin is bound by legal limitations where questions regarding insurance undertakings are concerned: please gather your own information and obtain in-depth advice on which insurance policies you should take out, which ones are not necessary in your situation and which insurance undertaking offers the best conditions at any given time. BaFin is not allowed to provide an opinion on these issues.
Bank customers often contact BaFin wanting to know whether their money is safe with a particular institution or whether a company is trustworthy. BaFin is may not make such recommendations and value judgements. You will have to take the time to make your own informed decisions on the various banks, their offers and their trustworthiness. What BaFin is allowed to provide information on is which deposit protection scheme a bank or savings bank belongs to and up to what amount your deposits are protected.
Where to seek help
Below, you will find examples of people and organisations who will be able to help with questions which BaFin is not permitted to answer for legal reasons. A guarantee as to the quality of the advisers and advisory organisations mentioned cannot be offered, however, since this is beyond BaFin's influence.
Use product tests to compare offers
One of the organisations providing information on a number of the abovementioned questions that go beyond the competence of BaFin is Stiftung Warentest. It provides comparative tests of financial products, for instance, which you can consider before deciding on a provider. Consumer centres (Verbraucherzentralen) also offer personal advice. Their contact details and further information can be found online.
Report false promises in advertisements
Questions or complaints regarding the advertising of financial services providers may be directed to the Centre for Protection against Unfair Competition (Zentrale zur Bekämpfung unlauteren Wettbewerbs e.V.) in Bad Homburg vor der Höhe. Its website contains further information and contact details.
Help in case of financial difficulties
If you are at risk of financial difficulties or if you are already experiencing them, a debt advice centre (Schuldnerberatungsstelle) may be able to help. Please be careful to ensure that any organisation you may contact about your difficulties is a reputable one. People experiencing financial difficulties too often fall prey to loan sharks posing as selfless friends who try to talk their victims into costly debt restructuring. The telephone hotline of the Federal Ministry of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (Bundesministeriums für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend), telephone number Please note that the debt advice centres of non-profit organisations often have long waiting times, but if you are prepared to wait you will generally get help that is tailored to your individual situation.
What if I need a lawyer?
If you are involved in a legal dispute, you should seek legal advice. If your financial situation does not allow this, you can claim for assistance under the German Legal Advice Scheme Act (Beratungshilfegesetz – BerHG). BaFin does not provide legal advice, nor may it recommend a particular lawyer for your concern.
Check with your insurance adviser
If you require detailed advice on insurance, you can approach an independent insurance adviser. Make sure that your adviser is certified by the local chamber of industry and commerce as required under section 34e of the German Industrial Code (Gewerbeordnung – GewO). Please enquire in advance about how much you will be charged for the advice. Please also note that insurance advisers are not allowed to act as insurance intermediaries since they are supposed to be independent from insurance undertakings and not permitted to take a commission. You can obtain contact details for insurance advisers from the German Federal Association of Insurance Advisers (Bundesverband der Versicherungsberater e. V.) and from the Versicherungsbersicherungsberater-Gesellschaft mbH.
Immediately cancel stolen cards
If your Girocard, credit card or PIN is stolen or gets lost, please contact your bank or the credit card provider's cancellation service as soon as possible. Make sure your card is cancelled immediately, before an unauthorised person is able to empty your account.
The cancellation service numbers are generally mailed out together with the card. The telephone numbers can also be found online. Many cancellation services can be contacted on the central telephone number 116 116 which is free if dialled from within Germany. From abroad, please call 00 49 116 116. Alternatively, you can call the Berlin number 00 49 30 4050 4050 to cancel your card.
The bank or cancellation service of the credit card company will also be able to help if a terminal or ATM withholds your card.