Chatbot-g85598d283_640Financial institutions are increasingly using chatbots, which put out human-like responses using computer programming, to communicate with customers to save money.

Chatbots sometimes have human names and use popup features to encourage interaction. Some chatbots use more complex technologies such as “artificial intelligence” to respond to customers.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has received hundreds of complaints from frustrated customers trying to receive timely, straightforward answers from their financial institutions or to raise a concern or dispute.

“To reduce costs, many financial institutions are integrating artificial intelligence technologies to steer people toward chatbots,” said CFPB Director Rohit Chopra. “A poorly deployed chatbot can lead to customer frustration, reduced trust, and even violations of the law.”

About 37 percent of the U.S. population interacted with a bank’s chatbot in 2022, a number that will grow.

Among the top 10 commercial banks in the country, all use chatbots to communicate with customers.

Financial institutions say their chatbots offer a variety of features to consumers such as retrieving account balances, looking up recent transactions, and paying bills. Much of the industry uses simple chatbots with keywords or emojis that trigger preset, limited responses or route customers to a Frequently Asked Questions section or page.

Other institutions have built chatbots by training algorithms with real customer conversations and chat logs, such as Capital One’s Eno and Bank of America’s Erica. Also, the banking industry has begun adopting advanced technologies, such as chatbots that can generate an answer.

In a study, the CFPB found chatbots pose risks including:

  • Noncompliance with federal consumer financial protection laws. The information chatbots provide may not be accurate. The technology may fail to recognize that consumers are invoking their federal rights, or it may fail to protect their privacy and data.
  • Diminished customer service and trust. Consumers’ problems could be dire and urgent. They may face repetitive loops of unhelpful jargon and struggle to get the response they need, including not being able to talk to a human.
  • Harm to consumers. Consumer may select the wrong product or service. They could be assessed fees or other penalties if they receive inaccurate information on making payments.

People who are having issues getting answers to their questions due to a lack of human interaction can submit a consumer complaint by going to the CFPB’s website or by calling 855-411-2372.

Originally Published on

Rita Robison Consumer & Personal Finance Journalist

For more than two decades, Rita R. Robison has been a consumer and personal finance journalist making her living by finding the best bargains, calling out the crooks, and advocating for regular people just like you and me. In that time, Robison has talked to so many people who feel like their money just isn’t getting them what they want, where they want to be, or the life they thought it would.

The purpose of her blog is to help you get what you want from your money. Robison covers financial goals, budgets, debt reduction, saving, smart choices for buying goods and services, and retirement planning. You’ll also find articles on safety, such as avoiding scams, looking out for rip off companies, and getting informed on the latest recalls.

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