HomeRegulatorsOffice of the Comptroller of the Currency

Office of the Comptroller of the Currency

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) is a part of the United States Department of the Treasury. As the prudential supervisor the OCC is tasked with improving the structure and order of the United States banking system. This page will highlight the main responsibilities of the OCC, how they make a difference and how they are involved with international money transfers.

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Who is the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency?

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) is an independent bureau within the United States Department of the Treasury that examines the conditions of banks and financial institutions that operate across the country. The federal agency was established by The National Currency Act of 1863: their mission is to supervise, regulate, and charter agencies of foreign banks in the US, federal branches, federally chartered savings associations and national banks. Due to the various supervisory duties of the OCC, international money transfer customers may encounter the organization when sending money abroad.

Unlike other financial regulators in the United States - such as The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) - the OCC does not receive funding from Congress. Instead, funds are secured from federal savings associations and national banks. These financial institutions fund the OCC, who in turn, process corporate applications and examinations. Other funding is secured from investment income and US Treasury securities make up the majority of this revenue stream.

The Comptroller of Currency is a Senate-appointed individual who chairs the office for a 5-year term. At the time of writing (Jan 2022) the Acting Comptroller of Currency is Michael J. Hsu, who was appointed in May 2021, by Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen.

Headquartered in Washington, DC, the OCC has 4 districts located in New York, Denver, Dallas, and Chicago, with a further 92 locations across the United States.

What is the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency responsible for?

This section will outline the main responsibilities of the OCC, as we explain how the independent bureau helps charter the US financial system and international transfers sent to and from the country.

Duties overseen of the OCC include:

  • Ensuring customers are protected from fraudulent banking practices

  • Ensuring consumers have equal and fair access to banking services

  • Issuing penalties to any banks that do not adhere to the regulations and laws

  • Monitoring banks and identifying illicit or unsafe practices that threaten to destabilize the financial sector or put consumer money at risk

  • Evaluating new bank branch and bank charter applications to ensure they meet the requirements of United States law.

  • Examining corporate structure to ensure banks are in the best position to follow all governing rules

  • Visiting bank headquarters and branches, to perform audits that determine if customer funds are at risk

  • Providing various framework for banks to follow

  • Working with member banks to help navigate regulations and follow applicable guidelines

The OCC is a core financial regulator with a vast workload that includes supervising 1,109 banks with a total value of $15.1 trillion. This money makes up approximately 65% of the overall US commercial banking sector.

Furthermore, there are 2,352 OCC examiners and their budget for 2022 is $1.154B. They are one of the key regulators for safeguarding the funds of money transfer clients that use the US banking system.

Why is the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency important?

The OCC plays a crucial role in the approval of new bank branches and charters around the US. The Office has the power to change banking structures and the way capital is moved between banking corporations, as well as the ability to take measures to discipline banks through fines and penalties, to ensure unwavering compliance.

Furthermore, the OCC has the authority to forcefully remove directors and chief officers from their positions, albeit for breaking regulations or rules or failing to operate in a satisfactory way. This allows the OCC to act with discretion, targeting specific individuals that may be involved, instead of going after an entire bank, which could do more harm than good for the US economy overall.

What regions are covered by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency?

The OCC covers banks, credit unions and other financial enterprises across the United States of America. As a federal agency organization, the OCC is limited to monitoring the operations of US banks. However, this includes all domestic US banks and foreign banks operating in the country.

No bank is excluded from its regulations and rules. New bank charters and bank branch openings in the US have to be approved by the OCC. This ensures that the US banking system maintains consistency and is built on a solid foundation.

When might you encounter the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency?

The OCC will come into play if and when a bank has breached the applicable laws and regulations outlined by the US banking system. It is possible to file a complaint with the OCC Customer Assistance Group if an issue needs to be investigated or resolved, regarding general malpractice or negligence of banking laws.

The OCC Customer Assistance Group is responsible for educating consumers on the proper use of credit cards and online banking. This helps consumers understand which banking laws and regulations exist to protect your money.

How to contact the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency

You may want to contact the OCC to make a complaint or ask for guidance on an issue related to your finances. The OCC is a government organization and customers who hold accounts with a US bank should not hesitate to contact them for help.

  • Phone: Call the toll-free number on +1(800) 613 6743 during the hours of 7am to 7pm, Monday to Friday

  • Fax: (713) 336-4301

  • Mail: OCC Customer Assistance Group, P. O. Box 53570 and Houston, TX 77052.

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Bottom line

The OCC is a government-appointed, independent bureau of the US Department of the Treasury. As an organization, the OCC is responsible for employing structure and financial disciplines to the US banking system, to protect the rights of consumers. Banks are expected to follow the framework implemented by the OCC, as they provide assistance by educating both banks and consumers on the reasoning behind rules and regulations.We recommend readers familiarize themselves with the relevant Regulators when transferring money across borders, to obtain peace of mind. Learn more about the Safest Ways to Send Money and other useful remittance advice, by browsing the rest of the site. Check out our comparison engine to find out the best options for your specific needs.

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Article Factchecked by Elliot Laybourne on 20th July 2022 Elliott is a former investment banker with a 20 year career in the city of London. During this time he held senior roles at ABN Amro, Societe Generale, Marex Financial and Natixis bank, specialising in commodity derivatives and options market-making. During this time, Elliott’s client list included Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Credit Suisse, Schroders Asset Management, and the Pennsylvania State Public School Employees Retirement System, amongst others.
April Summers
April Summers
April is a trained journalist and the Content Editor for She has 10 years experience writing about a diverse range of subjects, from financial services to arts and entertainment. When she's not writing about global remittances she can be found daydreaming about her next holiday abroad.