The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) has been granted an expansion of its powers to hear financial complaints that date back to 2008.
Until 30 June 2020, Australian consumers and small businesses can lodge complaints that would normally have fallen outside AFCA’s time limits. It will accept and investigate complaints about the conduct of financial firms dating back to 1 January 2008.
AFCA was established during the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry and resulted from a merging of the former Financial Ombudsman Service, the Credit and Investments Ombudsman and the Superannuation Complaints Trust.
AFCA chief ombudsman and CEO David Locke welcomed the move. “AFCA’s ability to consider legacy complaints dating back to 2008 provides people with the opportunity to have their matters independently reviewed,” he said.
“We have identified thousands of complaints that could potentially be made to AFCA, based on those that were deemed to be outside the jurisdiction of previous schemes.”
AFCA will follow its usual practice of referring complaints back to the financial firms to resolve them in the first instance, allowing them the opportunity to proactively resolve legacy complaints.
Taking this step is an important part of the firm’s commitment to justly remediate the misconduct of the past and meet the community’s expectations of fairness, an AFCA spokesperson said.
Where a firm was unable to satisfactorily resolve a complaint, AFCA would start investigating the matters from 1 October 2019.
Find out more about lodging a legacy complaint with AFCA at afca.org.au/legacy.
AFCA has also launched a roadshow that offers financial fairness checks to consumers.
Over six months, the AFCA Financial Fairness Roadshow will stop at 77 metro, regional and rural communities across Australia.
Mr Locke, as well as senior leaders and complaints experts will be in train stations, shopping centres, and public spaces talking to consumers about financial disputes and how AFCA can help resolve them.
The roadshow is heading to Tasmania, Victoria and New South Wales this spring. In early 2020, it will continue to Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory.
For more information about the roadshow, go to https://www.afca.org.au/news/afca-roadshow/
AFCA deputy chief ombudsman June Smith said that in its first 10 months, the authority had received more than 60,687 complaints from consumers.
“We’ve closed almost 73 per cent of those, but we are around 40 per cent above the projected figure that we estimated we would get when we opened the doors for business,” Dr Smith told The Age.
Credit and retail banking products accounted for about 21,000, or more than a third of all complaints, about 12,000 related to general insurance, and almost 8700 were against non-bank lenders.
Do you have cause to submit a formal complaint now that AFCA’s powers extend back to 2008?
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