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Single complaints-handling body means a fairer go for bank customers

15 May 2017

Legal Aid NSW argued for the establishment of a single ombudsman-style scheme to cut through confusion for consumers.

A single dispute resolution body will help ordinary Australians defend their rights when it comes to dealing with banks, super funds and other financial service providers, a Legal Aid NSW lawyer and consumer advocate says.

The 2017/18 federal budget confirms the establishment of a one-stop shop, the Australian Financial Complaints Authority, to deal with disputes in the financial services sector.

Legal Aid NSW argued for the establishment of a single ombudsman-style scheme in submissions to the so-called Ramsay review of the financial system external dispute resolution and complaints framework.

“A one-stop shop offers consumers a clear starting point to settle disputes with banks and other financial institutions,” Legal Aid NSW lawyer and consumer advocate Dana Beiglari said.

“This is a sensible step that will increase trust and confidence in financial services and create consistency in process and outcomes for consumers.”

Ms Beiglari said the existing dispute resolution landscape could be hard to navigate for consumers and can produce inconsistent outcomes.

“In my regular outreach work in remote NSW communities, I’ll often see clients who want to challenge debts but have a hard time understanding where to start,” she said.

“People who are confused about their options may simply cop an unfair debt rather than taking steps to exercise their rights.”

“Having a single, streamlined scheme that is user-friendly, accessible and free to the consumer will help ordinary Australians cut through the gaps and overlaps in the existing system, and enjoy greater confidence that when things go wrong, banks and other financial institutions will be held accountable.”

More information
Read our submission to the interim report of the review of the financial system external dispute resolution and complaints framework, or view the final report of the Ramsay review, released on 9 May, 2017.