Complaining to BaFin
Do you, as a customer, want to complain about a company which is supervised by BaFin? You can contact BaFin directly to do this. Find out in which cases BaFin will look at your complaint and how it does this here. You will also receive tips on formulating your complaint and information about how to submit it.
On this page:
- Please complain in writing
- Your complaint can benefit all consumers
- How BaFin deals with your complaint
- Securities transactions: a special case
- Legal limitations on complaints
- How to formulate your complaint correctly
- How to submit your complaint
- Service for people who are deaf or hard of hearing
- Please note: remember to meet your own deadlines
- When will I get a response to my complaint?
Please complain in writing
One of BaFin's tasks in its supervision of banks and financial services providers, private insurers and securities trading is to look after the protection of all consumers. Therefore, in accordance with section 4b of the German Act Establishing the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (Finanzdienstleistungsaufsichtsgesetz – FinDAG), you can turn directly to BaFin if you, as a customer, wish to complain about a company.
There are several things to bear in mind in this regard. You must submit your complaint to BaFin in written or text form. In it, you should always state the facts of the matter and the reason for your complaint.
Legally speaking, complaints about the companies supervised by BaFin constitute petitions. Pursuant to article 17 of the German Basic Law (Grundgesetz – GG), every individual has the right of petition. You have the right, therefore, either individually or jointly with others to address written requests or complaints to competent authorities – in this case BaFin – or to the legislature, the Bundestag.
Your complaint can benefit all consumers
Correspondence from consumers is very important for BaFin, since it can receive important information about problems which might be relevant for the supervision of companies. These could be organisational deficiencies in the operational structure of a bank or insurance undertaking, for example, or a case of improper management. Written complaints from customers can also help to bring to light irregularities at supervised companies or misconduct by an individual employee of a company, which could have serious consequences which go beyond the individual case.
If BaFin has indications of breaches of consumer-protection provisions which affect many consumers, it will look at whether it should take measures within its powers and what these should be. However, BaFin is not in a position to give a binding ruling about the specific case which led to its intervention. Only the civil courts have this role.
How BaFin deals with your complaint
BaFin generally looks at complaints in several stages:
- First it assesses whether the information and documentation you have submitted provide an adequate basis on which to reach a final decision.
- If not, it conducts further investigation into the matter. To this end, it requests a statement from the company concerned. BaFin usually forwards your written complaint to the supervised company as part of this process.
- The company reports back to BaFin in detail, explaining the reasons for its decision.
- If the outcome of the investigation is that the company's decision is not in breach of its statutory responsibilities, BaFin lets you know.
- However, if it turns out that BaFin, as the supervisory authority, has to step in, it pursues the matter further with the company. BaFin is not allowed to inform you of the results of the examination, since it is subject to a statutory duty of confidentiality.
- Nevertheless, you will receive a final letter in response to your personal complaint in any case.
Securities transactions: a special case
BaFin is not always in a position to assist you in conjunction with complaints relating to a securities transaction, such as shares bought or sold. Please note that BaFin is unable to assist in disputes involving claims for compensation against investment services enterprises. In simple terms: BaFin cannot recover money you have lost through securities transactions! For claims of this nature, you must seek redress through the courts, and should take your own legal advice on the matter. However, it is still worth contacting BaFin in the following cases:
- Do you feel you have been badly advised with regard to the purchase of securities such as shares or warrants and have you lost money as a result? Does an offer seem suspicious? Please write to BaFin! It will look into the matter. If you have grounds for complaint, BaFin will contact the institution concerned and seek to find out more. Your information can help BaFin detect and deal with breaches of the German Securities Trading Act (Wertpapierhandelsgesetz – WpHG), so please do not hesitate to contact us.
- Many investors have lost money in transactions resulting from cold calling. Do not take up such offers made on the telephone. Please write to BaFin if you receive an unsolicited call which attempts to lure you into making an investment. BaFin will then follow up on your information.
Legal limitations on complaints
BaFin has to work within the legal framework in force.
- BaFin cannot and is not allowed to give binding rulings on individual disputes. Decisions on questions of law are a matter for the courts alone. Only they can give binding rulings on controversial points of law and impose sanctions such as financial penalties on companies.
- BaFin cannot offer general legal advice. By law, this may only be provided by professionals qualified to do so, in particular, members of the legal profession. Consumer protection organisations also provide advice and assistance. BaFin cannot provide expert opinions on general questions of law.
- BaFin can only assess your complaint if the company concerned is subject to its supervision. For example, complaints concerning statutory health, accident or pension insurance, or local authority associations for compensatory aid (Kommunaler Schadensausgleich) are beyond its remit. Some smaller, regional insurance undertakings are subject to supervision at Federal State level. Stock exchange supervision is also a responsibility of the Federal States. BaFin is also not responsible for the supervision of financial services providers conducting business that is not subject to authorisation under the German Banking Act (Kreditwesengesetz – KWG), for instance investment fund intermediaries. Foreign companies are only subject to supervision by German supervisors to a limited extent. If in doubt, please contact BaFin to see if it can be of assistance.
- BaFin accepts a company's decisions taken on the grounds of business policy, provided the company is complying with current legislation.
How to formulate your complaint correctly
You should bear the following important points in mind when formulating your complaint. You must provide:
- Your name and address.
- If you are filing a complaint on behalf of another person, give the name and address of that person, too. In this case, you should enclose a letter of authorisation in which the person confirms that you are authorised to file a complaint with BaFin. BaFin takes the protection of your data very seriously.
- The name and address of the company you are complaining about.
- If your complaint relates to an insurance policy, please also state the type of policy, the policy number and, if applicable, the claim number.
- If your complaint relates to a credit or financial services institution, please also state the type of product (safe custody account, current account, savings plan, etc.), the account or customer number and the name of the account holder if it is someone other than yourself or you complain on behalf of another person.
- If your complaint relates to the purchase of securities, please state the security identification number (WKN or ISIN).
Please describe your problem in as much detail as possible. Enclose copies of any supporting documentation (e.g. contracts, account statements, insurance certificate, correspondence with the company concerned). Please do not send BaFin any original documents as you may need these yourself. Do not forget to add your signature. If you are filing a complaint on behalf of another person, please remember the required letter of authorisation so that BaFin is able to process your complaint.
How to submit your complaint
There are various ways in which you can contact BaFin to file your complaint.
- You can send a letter, a fax or an e-mail to BaFin. This is the best way, as BaFin requires a written account of the facts as well as copies of the relevant documentation in order to follow up your problem.
- Please send your complaint with the accompanying documents to BaFin:
post code: 53117 Bonn
Phone: + 49 (0)228 4108-0
- If you send your complaint in an e-mail, please remember to include your postal address as well. It may be that BaFin needs further documentation and asks you to send this in by post. In this case we will contact you in writing.
- If your complaint relates to an insurance undertaking or a bank, you can also use BaFin's online complaints form. There is a specific insurance complaints form (only available in German) and a banking complaints form (only available in German).
- The online complaints reach BaFin via the data connection of a service provider. If you still have questions about the exact complaints procedure, please call the BaFin consumer helpline:
BaFin staff will answer your call every weekday from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Please note that BaFin staff are only permitted to answer questions of a general nature over the telephone. Unfortunately, it is not possible to submit your complaint by phone. For legal and practical reasons, BaFin must insist that you submit your complaint in writing.
Service for people who are deaf or hard of hearing
People who are deaf or hard of hearing can use sign language and videotelephony (video over IP, SIP) to make an enquiry to the BaFin consumer helpline. In addition, fax and e-mail may be used. You can find information about all options for deaf and hard of hearing people to contact BaFin on our website.
Please note: remember to meet your own deadlines
Please note the following important point: the date on which you submit your complaint has no bearing upon the expiry of legal or contractual deadlines (e.g. payment or registration dates or statutory limitation periods). In your own interests, you must take responsibility for ensuring that you do not miss such deadlines, regardless of any investigation by BaFin. If in doubt, please take professional legal advice.
When will I get a response to my complaint?
BaFin will keep you informed as to the progress of your complaint and respond to you as quickly as possible. However, when a company is asked to provide a statement, experience has shown that it may take some time before this is provided and assessed. In such cases, BaFin asks for your patience while it processes the complaint to your satisfaction.
updated on 10.03.2016