Complaints Against Banking Industry Decline in 2011

The number of consumer complaints against financial institutions dropped in 20

Despite the uproar following the banking industry's plans to introduce new fees on checking accounts and debit card use, the number of consumer complaints against financial institutions actually dropped in 2011.

According to data published this week by the Better Business Bureau, complaints against U.S. banks dropped by nearly one-third last year. However, the overall number of consumers' complaints - measured across more than 4,000 industry categories - rose by 6 percent. Meanwhile, complaints against payday lenders more than doubled over the same period.

"To me, the overwhelming story here is that the numbers (the complaints) are small compared to how criticized the banks have been over the past 36 months," said Jaret Seiberg, a senior policy analyst at Guggenheim Securities, told Reuters. "As the industry copes with Dodd-Frank, debit card limits, and with new mortgage rules … complaints are still coming down."

In the years since the recession began, banks and credit card companies have been the target of considerable criticism, as consumers complained of hidden fees, random interest hikes, poor customer service and unfair lending practices. The latest report from the BBB suggests banks may be benefiting from a shift in their PR strategies.