Q: We had a loan for $16,000 with our bank in Hudson.
My stepdaughter borrowed $50,000 on our loan. I didn't know about it until I saw it on our statement. My wife agreed over the phone with someone at the bank. We didn't sign anything.
I'm wondering if that is legal procedure.
A: I understand your concern. I don't believe the bank has acted illegally, but there aren't enough details in your letter to explain just what occurred.
The first thing you should do is speak frankly with your wife. Write down everything she remembers about the circumstances surrounding her approval of this loan. Then call or visit the bank in person, with copies of all the relevant statements. See the loan officer or branch manager and tell him or her you were not consulted before the transaction took place. Ask that the loan terms be explained to you in detail, as well as the bank's procedure in procuring your wife's approval. Get copies of all the documents associated with the new loan.
If you don't get the matter resolved to your satisfaction, four government agencies may be able to help.
The Federal Reserve Board, Consumer and Community Affairs division, investigates complaints against state-chartered banks that are members of the Federal Reserve system. The board of governors works with the 12 Federal Reserve banks to make sure state member banks follow the law. Call (202) 452-3693 or visit www.federalreserve.gov.
Problems with federal savings and loans or federal savings banks may be resolved through the Office of Thrift Supervision. Call toll-free 1-800-842-6929; www.ots.treas.gov.
The Comptroller of the Currency OCC Customer Assistance group can help with national banks and credit card and mortgage company subsidiaries of national banks. A national bank has the word "national" or the letters N.A. in its official name.
State-chartered banks that are not members of the Federal Reserve system can be investigated by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Call toll-free 1-877-275-3342; www.fdic.gov.
If you aren't sure of your bank's category, the FDIC's Web site has a tool called Bank Find (http://www2.fdic.gov/idasp/main_bankfind.asp) that will give you that information.
Rough stuff in spin
Q: I purchased a Maytag Neptune front-loading washer and dryer in 2004. The washer's spin cycle is destroying my clothes. It spins clothes so roughly, it looks like they were been wrung by hand. At purchase I was told the washer was gentle on clothes.
In speaking with representatives and dealers at Maytag, I've been told that there were no recalls, that there was a recall on the "motherboard" and, again, that there were no recalls.
Someone isn't telling me the truth.
A: The Consumer Product Safety Commission has announced no recalls in the past five years for Maytag Neptune washers.
Maytag settled a class-action lawsuit in 2005, which alleged that owners of the front-load washers had claims concerning the door latch, wax motor and motor control, and related circuit board failures. The suit said the machines were malfunctioning and causing mold, mildew and odor. No mention of clothing damage was made.
The Neptune was promoted as a more efficient washing machine because its spin cycle wrung more water from the clothes, decreasing drying time.
If you've had service and there is nothing mechanical wrong with your machine, Action can do nothing to help.
Action solves problems and gets answers for you. Write Times Action, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731, or call, (727) 893-8171, or, outside of Pinellas, toll-free 1-800-333-7505, ext. 8171, to leave a recorded request. Complaints can only be accepted by mail. Send only photocopies of personal documents. Names of letter writers will not be omitted except in unusual circumstances. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.