DFPI Office of the Ombuds
The California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI) in 2021 established the Office of the Ombuds (Office) to act as an independent, impartial, and confidential resource to ensure complaints about DFPI staff or actions receive full and impartial review.
The Office shall assist complainants with resolving disputes, and inform them of DFPI policies, procedures, regulations, and laws. If the Office cannot handle the issues independently, or if the issue is not appropriate for the Office to review, the complainant will be referred to the appropriate resource within the DFPI and tracked for resolution. If appropriate, the Office will refer the complainant to another state agency or organization.
Standards of Practice / Code of Ethics
- Neutrality and Impartiality
The Office shall not, nor should any entity expect or authorize the Office to:
- Impose, interfere with, or modify any statutes, regulations, or laws, including any related policies, practices, or procedures followed or enforced by the DFPI;
- Make, change, or set aside a law, policy, or administrative decision;
- Make binding decisions or determine rights;
- Directly compel an entity or any person to implement the recommendations from the Office;
- Conduct an investigation that substitutes for administrative or judicial proceedings;
- Accept jurisdiction over an issue that is currently pending in a legal forum;
- Address any issue arising under a collective bargaining agreement or which falls within the purview of any federal, state, or local labor or employment law, rule, or regulation; or
- Act in a manner inconsistent with the jurisdiction of the Office
Frequently Asked Questions about the Office of the Ombuds
1. What is an Ombuds?
An Ombuds is a neutral party, in this case internal to the DFPI, that facilitates the informal resolution of concerns. The DFPI’s Ombuds works with any individual or entity that interacts with the DFPI to help them explore options to resolve conflicts, problematic issues or concerns. Our primary objective is to work toward fair and efficient processes and administration.
2. How can the Office of the Ombuds help?
The DFPI’s Office of the Ombuds is available to help you in a variety of ways, including but not limited to:
- listening to complaints, concerns, problems and issues;
- helping you to explore and evaluate options;
- clarifying certain decisions, policies and practices;
- creating access to information, if appropriate, and helping to open channels of communication;
- acting as an alternative channel of communication to management and DFPI staff;
- helping to ensure that established policies and practices are functioning properly and equitably;
- referring to helpful resources;
- raising issues so they can be addressed in formal processes;
- taking objective action to resolve matters that fall outside the established forums and procedures; and
- identifying new issues and opportunities for systemic change for the DFPI and bringing systemic issues to the DFPI’s attention for resolution.
3. What types of problems does the Office of the Ombuds handle?
The Ombuds handles any concern or complaint about operations, enforcement or other DFPI staff and activities. The Office was not created to replace existing DFPI programs; for example, concerns regarding DFPI regulated entities and individuals may be better directed to Consumer Services at (866) 275-2677 or through an email to Ask.DFPI@dfpi.ca.gov. If you are not sure that your problems fit within these categories or is an appropriate matter for the Office, call us to find out.
4. What does an Ombuds not do?
The DFPI Ombuds does not:
- participate in formal investigations or play a role in a formal resolution process;
- overturn any decisions of existing dispute resolution or appellate bodies;
- serve in any role that compromises the neutrality of the Office; and
- make binding decisions or mandate policies.
The Office of the Ombuds does not participate in or replace already existing DFPI processes or programs. Where established procedures currently exist regarding the application of rules, policies, procedures or interpretation, the Office will direct the complaint to the appropriate department and monitor the outcome, if necessary. The Office will attempt to assist complainants in identifying several options for resolving your concern, even if it does not become directly involved in the matter.
5. Who may contact the Office of the Ombuds?
Anyone with a complaint or concern regarding the DFPI may contact the Office of the Ombuds. This includes investors, securities industry professionals, DFPI employees, and any business or individual that interacts with the DFPI.
6. Do I need to disclose my name if I want to discuss a complaint or concern with the Office of the Ombuds?
No. You have the option of submitting your concern or complaint anonymously.
7. If I complain to the Office of the Ombuds, who will find out about it?
You may choose to voice your complaint anonymously, but generally your discussion with the Ombuds is confidential. However, information may be shared within the Department as necessary to research and resolve your issue. We may also have to share information if there is a threat of imminent risk or serious harm, or you have raised an issue that legally requires the DFPI to take action.
8. Does the Office of the Ombuds respond to all inquiries?
The Office strives to respond promptly and fully to all inquiries it receives. In rare circumstances, the Office may exercise its discretion on when and whether to act upon a concern of an individual who contacts the Office. The Ombuds may also initiate action on a problem the Office identifies directly.
9. Does the Office of the Ombuds have authority to solve every problem?
No, that is not the purpose of the Office. The DFPI already has many programs and procedures in place for solving problems, resolving disputes, handling complaints and addressing concerns. The Ombuds will help you identify options, make sure they are available to you and help you to use them most effectively. The Ombuds will consider steps necessary to ensure that the program and procedures of existing forums are operating properly and appropriately and are equitably carried out by staff. The Ombuds does not have the authority to overturn decisions made in these forums but will make recommendations to management regarding any problems found.
10. Will the Ombuds act as an advocate on my behalf?
The Office does not represent or act as an advocate for any person in a dispute with the DFPI and does not take sides on any issues brought to its attention. It promotes fair and efficient processes and considers the interest and concerns of all parties to a situation.
Key Consumer Links