Financial complaints soar in first month of new authority

The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) has reported it received 6,522 complaints from consumers and small businesses about financial products or services in its first month of operation.

AFCA opened on 1 November and averaged 310 complaints per business day, a 47% increase compared to the three predecessor complaints schemes.

It also received more than 13,000 telephone enquiries in its first month of operation.

CEO and Chief Ombudsman David Locke said the number of calls and complaints matched expectations. AFCA wanted to ensure members of the public knew where to go for help if they had a financial complaint that couldn’t be resolved with their financial firm.

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

Most complaints received were about credit (45%), followed by general insurance (21%) and deposit taking (10%). Eight per cent were about superannuation. Most were lodged by individual consumers, with 460 coming from small businesses.

Decisions made by banks accounted for 2,367 complaints, followed by general insurers (1,159) and credit providers (1,040). They related to denial of insurance claims and responsible lending. Service quality and delays in claims or complaint handling were also common.

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