What Does The Financial Ombudsman Service Do?

14 October 2016

What is the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) and what does it do? Find out how it handles dispute resolutions for consumers.

When something goes wrong in the area of banking and finance, general insurance, investments, life insurance or superannuation and you can’t get anywhere with the company concerned, who do you turn to? The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) offers fair, independent and accessible dispute resolution for consumers who are unable to resolve complaints with member financial services providers.

Financial Ombudsman Service Australia: How does it work?

The Financial Ombudsman Service is a not-for-profit, non-government organisation that resolves disputes quickly and efficiently, providing a cheaper alternative than going to court. Most importantly, their service is free of charge for applicants, with the costs of running the service being met by their members.

The member of the FOS include banks, insurers, credit providers, financial advisers and planners, debt collection agencies, and other businesses that provide financial products and services.

The FOS resolves disputes between consumers and Financial Services Providers:

  • In a cooperative, efficient, timely and fair manner
  • With minimum formality and technicality
  • As transparently as possible, taking into account obligations for confidentiality and privacy

This involves understanding all aspects of a dispute without taking sides, and making decisions based on the specific facts and circumstance of each dispute.

The Financial Ombudsman Service is approved by the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) and is a valuable, impartial, external dispute resolution avenue for the protection of consumers in this country.

How does Financial Ombudsman Service Australia work

What disputes does the FOS cover?

The FOS handles a wide range of financial disputes, including:

There are some financial institutions that are not covered by the FOS, but these institutions are covered instead by the Credit and Investments Ombudsman (CIO). Obviously, the CIO only deals with complaints about credit and investments.

What do consumers complain about?

According to the annual review from the FOS, it received 20,298 complaints during the 2015-2016 financial year.

By far, the largest type of product complained about was credit products, comprising mainly of credit cards and home loans (47% of complaints) followed by general insurance at 31% (mostly car insurance and home building insurance). Investments, deposits, life insurance, and other services received comparatively fewer complaints.

Check out the FOS annual review for the full breakdown.

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