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6,000-plus consumer financial complaints lodged in one month

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The newly operational Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) has received 6,522 complaints from consumers and small businesses in its first month.

Since its opening on 1 November, AFCA has received over 13,000 phone calls regarding financial products or services.

This averages 310 complaints per business day and signals a 47 per cent increase in the amount of complaints received in comparison to the three predecessor schemes.

“This number of calls and complaints is on par with what we were expecting,” said CEO and Chief Ombudsman David Locke.

“We want to make sure that members of the public know where to go for help when they have a financial complaint they can’t resolve directly with their financial firm.”

“AFCA provides quick and easy access to fair resolutions. This is part of our role in rebuilding trust in the financial services sector. In fact, while we have only been operating for a month, 15 per cent of the complaints we received in the month of November have already been finalised,” Mr Locke said.

Of the complaints issued, the majority were against banks (2,367), followed by insurance providers (1,159) and credit issuers (1,040).

Most complaints regarded the decisions financial firms made on behalf of the consumer or the small business. This included issues such as the denial of insurance claims and queries over responsible lending practices.

Service issues were the next most common area of complaint, with consumers reporting issues with service quality, delays in claim handling and complaint processing.

“Our streamlined processes and systems have dealt well with the level of calls and complaints received. Eighty per cent of complaints have been lodged online, meaning consumers and small businesses have been able to access our service whenever and wherever they need it,” Mr Locke said.

Through these consumer complaints, AFCA have identified 84 definite systematic problems and four potentially serious contraventions and other breaches.

“Systemic issues are identified in a complaint or several complaints and have an effect on people beyond the parties to a complaint. Because of this, we take our responsibility to identify and investigate systemic issues very seriously. Financial firms should be in no doubt that we will be referring and reporting these to the appropriate regulator,” Mr Locke affirmed.

6,000-plus consumer financial complaints lodged in one month
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