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Released every month our debt collection blog contains news, stories and tips to keep you informed.

AFCA Averaging 5900 Complaints Per Month

Friday, June 28, 2019 - Posted by Michael McCulloch

The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) has recently released a snapshot of statistics following their first 5 months of operation.

The release of these statistics follows an article, 'Appalling Treatment': Bank Customers Making 5,900 Complaints a Month in the Sydney Morning Herald where the Chair of AFCA, Helen Coonan said in a speech allegedly seen by The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, "Poor culture in financial institutions has been identified as the main culprit that permitted a slew of bad practices, appalling treatment of consumers and small businesses, and in many cases arrogant indifference to regulatory and compliance risk. Now almost seven months old, AFCA is playing an important part in restoring shattered community trust and confidence in the financial services sector."

The statistics show that between 01/11/0218 and 31/03/2019 AFCA -

  • Received 29,873 complaints (closing 55% as of 31/03)
  • Awarded $67 million in compensation
  • Identified 81 system issues that are still currently under investigation
  • Attended and / or held 138 events and meetings across the ACT, NSW, QLD, SA, VIC and WA
  • Received more than 61,237 phone calls; and
  • Had 568,933 visits to their website

Both credit reporting and responsible lending topped the most complained about issues for credit providers (1,935 and 1,198 complaints) with 45% of complaints relating to credit related products. 1,142 complaints were received about debt collectors or buyers however the nature of these complaints were not disclosed.

Download a copy of the full released statistics at Snapshot of AFCA's first five months.

AFCA Approach to Financial Difficulty - Early Release of Superannuation

Thursday, May 30, 2019 - Posted by Michael McCulloch

Following on from last month where we looked at the AFCA Approach to Mortgagee Sales this month we look at the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) approach to Financial Difficulty - Early Release of Superannuation.

The purpose of this article is to summarise the approach AFCA have regarding the early release of superannuation and what lenders obligations are when considering a request from a consumer to support the early release of superannuation.

Grounds for Release
There are 2 primary circumstances where a consumer may apply for the early release of superannuation. These are due to several financial hardship or compassionate grounds (mortgage arrears). A consumer that has been in receipt of a Government support payment, such as Newstart Allowance, continuously for 26 weeks may be entitled to the early release of superannuation on the grounds of financial hardship. A consumer may access between $1,000 to $10,000 once a year and the application must be made directly to their superannuation fund. The payment can be utilised for any purpose and does not require the support of the FSP.
Where the application is being made on compassionate grounds (mortgage arrears) the process is administered by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). A consumers application to the ATO for payment of mortgage arrears will need a letter from their FSP stating that the amount is overdue and if the overdue amount is not paid by the due date the mortgagee will foreclose or force the sale of the consumers principal place of residence. More information is available from Access on Compassionate Grounds on the ATO website.

AFCA Expectations
There is an expectation from AFCA that FSPs will consider alternatives rather than simply supporting a request for the release of superannuation as the release of superannuation is a last resort. AFCA expects FSPs to take appropriate steps to understand the consumers financial position, decide what assistance it can provide the consumer and communicate its decision to the consumer. 

Factors to Consider
When considering if support should be given for the early release of superannuation the FSP, , should explore all alternative options -
Where it is apparent that the consumer can afford to continue with the contractual repayments but unable to clear the arrears the FSP may consider it more appropriate to capitalise the arrears. 
Where the FSP is unable to determine if the consumer can meet their ongoing contractual obligations it may be more appropriate for the FSP to provide a reasonable moratorium period to allow the consumer time for their situation to improve.
Where it is clear that the consumer will be unable to meet their ongoing contractual obligations supporting a release for superannuation may not be appropriate as any release will only delay the inevitable. In certain situations it may be beneficial for the FSP to allow the consumer time to sell the security property which will preserve their superannuation and may offer some financial relief.

Failing to Meet Obligations
Where AFCA believe that the FSP has failed to meet their obligations AFCA may rule that the FSP has failed to meet financial difficulty obligations under the AFCA Rules. Where the consumer has suffered a financial loss AFCA may award compensation.
Where the FSP has supported an early release for superannuation that AFCA believe inappropriate they will generally not require the FSP to refund the superannuation monies or reimburse any tax paid as a result of the withdrawal of the funds as in most cases the consumer will have obtained the benefit of the funds and will have potentially saved on interest, fees and charges.

To learn more or to read this article in its entirety visit AFCA Approaches - Early Release of Super.

Disclaimer: This article is general information only and does not constitute legal advice and is not intended to be relief on in any way.


AFCA Warns FSPs of Bigger Compensation Bills

Wednesday, January 30, 2019 - Posted by Michael McCulloch

Newly appointed Chief Ombudsman, David Locke, has recently announced in an article in the Financial Review that Financial Service Providers (FSPs) that fail to respond quickly to matters brought to the attention of the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) may face bigger compensation bills.

Since its inception in November 2018 AFCA claim to have received 11,500 complaints of which 4,000 have been about FSPs. By direct comparison the Financial Ombudsman Service, at its peak, received 2,100 complaints per month.

Mr Locke indicated that responsible lending and misleading sales were among the issues most frequently complained about by consumers and said in a statement, "The volumes of matters coming to us are very high. A lot of people have been treated very poorly by financial institutions over a number of years. The royal commission has shone a bright and forensic light on some issues but most people still feel they haven't been heard or had their matters addressed."

While Mr Locke was unable to provide an actual dollar figure for compensation ordered to date he did indicate that the AFCA cost model is structured so FSPs pay more the longer a dispute goes on so there is an incentive to resolve disputes as quickly as possible.

Of the 11,500 complaints since AFCA came into power 32% of cases have been resolved.


AFCA Rules of Complaint Resolution

Tuesday, October 30, 2018 - Posted by Michael McCulloch

On Thursday, 1 November 2018 the new Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) will begin receiving complaints.

AFCA has released their Complaint Resolution Scheme Rules which you can download from our website which outline the types of complaints that AFCA can deal with and how it will handle complaints from consumers against financiers.

AFCA Jurisdiction

The graphic below depicts how AFCA will determine if a complaint falls within their jurisdiction -

AFCA Complaint Resolution Process

Section A
A.4 - Complaints that AFCA Considers

A.4.1 The Complainant must be an Eligible Person.

A.4.2 A complaint must be about a Financial Firm that is an AFCA Member at the time that the complaint is submitted to AFCA (even if not an AFCA Member at the time of the events giving rise to the complaint).

A.4.3 There are some additional requirements that must be met in order for AFCA to be able to consider a complaint. In summary:

a) The complaint must arise from a customer relationship or other circumstance that brings the complaint within AFCA’s jurisdiction.
b) There must be a sufficient connection with Australia.
c) Generally, there is a time limit within which the complaint must be submitted to AFCA.
d) If the complaint is about a Traditional Trustee Company Service that involve Other Affected Parties, the Complainant must get the consent of all Other Affected Parties.

Section B sets out these requirements.

A.4.4 There are some types of complaints that AFCA must exclude and some situations in which AFCA can decide to exclude a complaint.

Section C sets this out.

A.4.5 If AFCA excludes a complaint, AFCA will give written reasons to the Complainant and specify the timeframe within which the Complainant may object to this decision.
A.4.6 If the Complainant objects within the specified timeframe, AFCA will review the decision if AFCA is satisfied that the objection may have substance. If this is the case, AFCA will inform the Financial Firms involved in the complaint and provide them with an opportunity to make submissions before AFCA makes a final decision as to whether to consider the complaint.
A.4.7 Despite other rules, AFCA may consider a complaint if all parties to the complaint consent in writing and AFCA agrees to this. This does not apply to complaints about payment of a death benefit excluded under the time limits in rule B.4.1.3.

Section B
B.2 Relationship Giving Rise to the Complaint - Other Complaints
Section B.2.1

A complaint (other than a Superannuation Complaint) must arise from or relate to:

a) the provision of a Financial Service by the Financial Firm to the Complainant;
b) the provision by the Complainant of a guarantee or security for, or repayment of, financial accommodation provided by the Financial Firm to an Eligible Person;
c) an entitlement or benefit under a Life Insurance Policy that specifies or refers to the Complainant, whether by name or otherwise, as a person to whom the insurance cover extends or to whom money becomes payable under the Life Insurance Policy;
d) an entitlement or benefit under a General Insurance Policy that specifies or refers to the Complainant, whether by name, or otherwise, as a person to whom the policy extends;
e) a legal or beneficial interest of the Complainant arising out of:
(i) a financial investment (such as life insurance, a security or an interest in a managed investment scheme or a superannuation fund); or
(ii) a facility under which the Complainant seeks to manage financial risk or to avoid or limit the financial consequences of fluctuations in, or in the value of, an asset, receipts or costs (such as a derivatives contract);
f) a claim by the Complainant under another person’s Motor Vehicle Insurance Product for:
(i) property damage to an Uninsured Motor Vehicle caused by a driver of the insured motor vehicle;
(ii) non-financial loss as a result of claims handling by the Financial Firm that insured the motor vehicle, but only where a valid claim has been submitted by the owner of the insured motor vehicle (unless the claim is being made pursuant to section 51 of the Insurance Contracts Act 1984);
g) an investment made by the Complainant that was offered by a Financial Firm under a foreign recognition scheme to Australian resident investors, unless expressly excluded from access to AFCA or a Predecessor Scheme by the investment offer document; or
h) a Traditional Trustee Company Service where:
(i) the Complainant is entitled to request an Annual Information Return from the trustee; and
(ii) at least one co-trustee was at that time a current AFCA Member and all co-trustees that are not AFCA Members have consented to AFCA considering the complaint.
i) a breach of obligations arising from the operation of the:
(i) Privacy Act; or
(ii) the Consumer Data Framework.

B.3 Sufficient Connection with Australia
B.3.1

A complaint must arise from:
a) a contract or obligation arising under Australian law, including but not limited to privacy obligations;
b) an offer to invest that was received in Australia by a Complainant in relation to a recognised Foreign Collective Investment Scheme; or
c) a direct or indirect investment in a product through a platform which was offered in Australia.

B.4 Time Limits for Complaints
B.4.2 Complaints to Which the National Credit Code Applies
B.4.1.1

Where a complaint relates to a variation of a credit contract as a result of financial hardship, an unjust transaction or unconscionable interest and other charges under the National Credit Code, AFCA will generally not handle the complaint unless it was submitted to AFCA before the later of the following time limits:
a) within two years of the date when the credit contract is rescinded, discharged or otherwise comes to an end; or
b) where, prior to lodging the complaint with AFCA, the Complainant was given an IDR Response in relation to the Complaint from the Financial Firm - within two years of the date of that IDR Response.

AFCA Type of Complaint

Section C
C.1 Mandatory Exclusions
C.1.2 Exclusions Applying Generally

AFCA must exclude:

a) A complaint about the level of a fee, premium, charge, rebate or interest rate – unless:
(i) the complaint concerns non-disclosure, misrepresentation or incorrect application of the fee, premium, charge, rebate or interest rate by the Financial Firm having regard to any scale or practices generally applied by that Financial Firm or agreed with that Complainant;
(ii) the complaint concerns a breach of any legal obligation or duty on the part of the Financial Firm; or
(iii) the Complainant’s complaint is with a medical indemnity insurer and pertains to the level of medical indemnity insurance premium or the application of a risk surcharge (as defined in the Services Contract between the Health Insurance Commission, and the Commonwealth of Australia represented by the Department of Health and Ageing, and medical indemnity insurers).
b) A complaint that relates to a decision by a Financial Firm as to how to allocate the benefit of a Financial Service between the competing claims of potential beneficiaries, unless the complaint relates to a Superannuation Complaint or a Traditional Trustee Company Service.
c) A complaint that raises the same events and facts and is brought by the same Complainant as a complaint previously dealt with by AFCA and there is insufficient additional events and facts raised in the new complaint to warrant AFCA considering the new complaint.
d) A complaint that has already been dealt with by a court, dispute resolution tribunal established by legislation or a Predecessor Scheme, unless the Complainant has requested a stay on the execution of a default judgment on the basis of financial difficulty, and the Financial Firm has declined the Complainant’s financial difficulty assistance request, and the request has not previously been dealt with. For the avoidance of doubt, AFCA may consider a complaint by a Primary Producer about issues unresolved after a farm debt mediation.
e) A complaint where the value of the Complainant’s claim when the complaint is submitted to AFCA exceeds $1 million or higher amount that applies as a result of an adjustment in accordance with rule D.4.3. This jurisdictional limit does not apply to:
(i) a Superannuation Complaint; or
(ii) a complaint by a borrower arising from a credit facility provided to a Small Business (including Primary Producer); or
(iii) a complaint to set aside a guarantee supported by security over the guarantor’s primary place of residence.
f) A complaint where the Complainant is a member of a group of Related Bodies Corporate and that group has 100 employees or more. 
g) A complaint that would require review of a trustee’s exercise of discretion but this does not exclude:
(i) a complaint to the extent that an allegation is made of bad faith, failure to give fair and proper consideration to the exercise of the discretion, or failure to exercise the discretion in accordance with the purpose for which it was conferred; or
(ii) a Superannuation Complaint,
h) A complaint about professional accountancy services provided by an Accountant unless they are provided in connection with one of the following:
(i) a financial service within the meaning of section 766A of the Corporations Act or section 12BAB of the ASIC Act;
(ii) credit activity within the meaning of the National Consumer Credit Protection Act 2009; or
(iii) tax (financial) advice services within the meaning of the Tax Agent Services Act 2009.
i) A complaint about a:
(i) Privacy Act Participant that does not relate to a right or obligation arising under the Privacy Act; or
(ii) CDR Participant that does not relate to a right or obligation arising under the Consumer Data Framework.

C.2 AFCA's Discretion Not to Consider Complaints
C2.1

AFCA may in its discretion exclude a complaint, if AFCA considers this course of action is appropriate.

AFCA will not exercise its discretion to exclude a complaint lightly. The discretion will only be used in cases where there are compelling reasons for deciding that AFCA should not consider the complaint. 

Section D
D.3 Compensation for Complaints Other Than Superannuation Complaints
D.3.1

An AFCA Decision Maker may decide that the Financial Firm is to compensate the Complainant for direct financial loss. When calculating the value of such a remedy, monetary compensation and any remedy where the value can readily be calculated, such as the waiving of a debt, are included.

D.4 sets out the maximum amount that an AFCA Decision Maker can award for direct financial loss.

D.3.2

In addition or instead, an AFCA Decision Maker may decide that the Financial Firm is to compensate the Complainant for indirect financial loss. This is not the case if the complaint arises as a result of a claim:

a) on a General Insurance Policy that expressly excludes such liability; or
b) by the Complainant under another person’s Motor Vehicle Insurance Product.
D.4 sets out the maximum amount that an AFCA Decision Maker can award for indirect financial loss.

D.3.3

An AFCA Decision Maker may decide that the Financial Firm is to compensate the Complainant for non-financial loss:

a) for a complaint relating to an individual’s privacy rights - injury has occurred to the Complainant’s feelings or humiliation has been suffered by the Complainant; or
b) for other complaints – an unusual degree or extent of physical inconvenience, time taken to resolve the situation or interference with the Complainant’s expectation of enjoyment or peace of mind has occurred.
This type of compensation, however, is not permitted if the complaint arises as a result of a claim on a General Insurance Policy that expressly excludes such liability.

D.4 sets out the maximum amount that an AFCA Decision Maker can award for non-financial loss.

D.4 Monetary Limits for Complaints Other Than Superannuation Complaints -

AFCA Compensation Amount Limit

As indicated above, AFCA will apply a new definition for small business and will also introduce the following monetary limits and compensation caps:

  • small business is now defined as any business with fewer than 100 staff;
  • unlimited monetary jurisdiction for superannuation disputes;
  • a monetary limit of $1,000,000 and a compensation cap of $500,000 for most non-superannuation disputes;
  • a monetary limit of $5,000,000 and a compensation cap of $1,000,000 for small business credit facility disputes;
  • increased compensation caps for small business primary production producers; and
  • no monetary limits and compensation caps for disputes about whether a guarantee should be set aside where it has been supported by a mortgage or other securitised interest over a guarantor's primary residence.
Default Judgment

In accordance with the Complaint Resolution Scheme Rules A.7 Restrictions on Financial Firms During a Complaint AFCA have confirmed that while they are considering a complaint that legal proceedings cannot commence against a Complainant or any other party to the complaint while the complaint is being investigated. Furthermore AFCA have indicated that where proceedings have been commenced an application for Default Judgment must not be sought or to pursue debt recovery legal proceedings.

Where an application for Default Judgment has been filed AFCA are instructing financial firms to write to the Court requesting that the application not be processed. In the event of the application having already been lodged and processed by the Court the financial firm is to make an application to set aside Default Judgment, at your cost.

Despite Rule A.7.1 AFCA have confirmed that with their permission legal proceedings can be commenced where -

A.7 Restrictions on Financial Firms During a Complaint
A.7.2

a) begin legal proceedings if the legal limitation period for the proceedings is about to expire – but the Financial Firm may not pursue those legal proceedings other than to the minimum extent necessary to preserve the Financial Firm’s legal rights;
b) begin legal proceedings if AFCA agrees to allow the Financial Firm to treat the complaint as a test case and the Financial Firm meets the requirements set out in rule C.2.2(f);
c) exercise any rights it might have to freeze, preserve or sell assets the subject of the complaint;
d) continue with legal proceedings if the Complainant, anyone else joined as a party to the complaint or Other Affected Party took a step in defending those legal proceedings that went beyond lodging
a defence or a defence and counterclaim;
e) continue with legal proceedings about a Small Business (including Primary Producer) credit facility of more than $5 million; or
f) enforce a default judgment obtained in court.
In each case, the Financial Firm must comply with any conditions that AFCA imposes.

Mapping of FOS Terms of Reference, CIO Rules and AFCA Rules

To further assist financiers in making the transition, AFCA has released Mapping of FOS Terms of Reference, CIO Rules and AFCA Rules which provides a reference when attempting to locate a particular section of the new Rules. This has been released following feedback from submissions. You can read the 34 submissions online at the AFA Rules Consultation page.

As AFCA start receiving complaints and making decisions public we will endeavour to publish these via our blog and across social media to keep you informed as to the interpretation of the new Rules and how this may impact you.

Alternatively if you have any questions regarding the new Rules we urge you to speak with a qualified legal practitioner or speak with Collection Law Partners.

Disclaimer: This article is general information only and does not constitute legal advice and is not intended to be relied on in any way.


ASIC Provides Transition Relief for CIO Members

Tuesday, October 30, 2018 - Posted by Michael McCulloch

The Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) has provided transition relief for members of the Credit and Investments Ombudsman (CIO) who are currently awaiting membership certificates to be issued by the new Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA).

In a statement to the media ASIC said, "ASIC understands that some licensees and credit representatives who are members of the CIO scheme have not yet obtained their membership to the AFCA scheme. ASIC understands that this includes licensees and credit representatives who: have lodged an application with AFCA Ltd, but membership has not yet been approved; and have not yet lodged an application with AFCA Ltd."

The initial deadline for licence holders was Friday, 21 September 2018 however ASIC said it would be giving transitional relief to prevent authorisations from becoming invalid due to circumstances however stressed to representatives affected by the changeover delays that they would only be granted relief as long as they ensure that their membership with CIO is maintained. A representative of ASIC went on to say that, "If you are not a member on 1 November, your authorisation will become invalid, and you will need to cease providing credit activities."

ASIC has recently sent a reminder to all financial services and credit licensees to join AFCA which combines the Financial Ombudsman Service, the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal and the Credit and Investments Ombudsman.

Source: TheAdviser - September 2018


ASIC Regulatory Guide 165 Internal and External Dispute Resolution [Reminder]

Thursday, September 27, 2018 - Posted by Michael McCulloch

In our June 2018 edition of Debt Collection News we published our article ASIC Regulatory Guide 165 Internal and External Dispute Resolution.

Regulatory Guide 139 (RG139) now appears to be out of amended draft form and can be download here with ASIC reminding Creditors that RG139 is only in place until all current disputes with the Financial Ombudsman Service and the Credit and Investments Ombudsman have closed -

Note (20 June 2018): In the transition to the commencement of the new, single EDR scheme—the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA)—on 1 November 2018, complaints made to the FOS and CIO schemes will continue to be dealt with under the relevant scheme’s terms of reference and rules that applied when the complaint was made. 
This guide provides the framework for those versions of the terms of reference and rules. It will remain in force until all those complaints are closed. At that time, we will withdraw RG 139. Regulatory Guide 267 Oversight of the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (RG 267) sets out how we will perform our oversight role in relation to the AFCA scheme.

As a reminder the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) will start accepting complaints from 01/11/2018 with Creditors required to ensure that all final response letters and "delay" letters include reference to both relevant predecessor EDR schemes from 21/09/2018.

If you require clarification of the new requirements please contact Collection Law Partners on (02) 8923-1613.


Consultation of AFCAs Proposed Funding Model

Monday, July 30, 2018 - Posted by Michael McCulloch

The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) has recently released a consultation paper which sets out how the new external dispute resolution scheme proposes to recover the cost of it operations.

A three-phase funding model has been developed by AFCA. Extracted from the AFCA Funding Model Overview:

Phase I - Transition Funding
  • Meeting the costs of AFCA's establishment so that it is adequately prepared to receive and handle complaints from commencement on 01/11/2018.
  • Transition funding covers both the governance-related costs and the costs of establishing and operationalising AFCA to be ready to receive up to 1,000 complaints in the first week of commencement. In the May 2018 the Federal Governement allocated $1.7 million as contribution to AFCA's 2018-19 establishment costs.

Phase II - Interim Funding Model

  • To apply for the first three years of AFCA operations (FY2018/2019 – FY2020/2021). During this period a hybrid funding model is proposed to be applied - based on aspects of the existing scheme funding arrangements for Firms that are FOS and CIO scheme members, and the APRA levy model for superannuation trustees who become AFCA members.
  • The first two months of funding in 2018-19 cover the operations of the FOS scheme (operated by AFCA), funded by FOS members who transitioned their membership to AFCA on 1 May 2018, with the next two months funded by both FOS and CIO members. The subsequent eight months will fund the newly formed AFCA from its commencement on 1 November 2018, and will be managed in accordance with the interim funding model, outlined in this funding model overview.
  • The interim funding arrangements will apply while AFCA establishes an evidence base of complaint volumes and complexity in an expanded jurisdiction, and settles complaint handling approaches and required skills/resources to manage the full range of complaints.

Phase III - A Long-Term Funding Model
  • A long-term funding model – to be adopted following a full funding review based on complaint forecasts, operational efficiency savings across the consolidated scheme, and resource requirements for the long-term future of AFCA.
  • The review will seek options for a revised funding model developed from consultation with stakeholders and settlement by the AFCA board following discussion with the Minister for Revenue and Financial Services and ASIC. The long-term funding model is proposed to be implemented from July 2021.

Feedback regarding the consultation paper can be directed to AFCA via email.


ASIC Releases Regulatory Guide 267 Oversight of AFCA

Monday, July 30, 2018 - Posted by Michael McCulloch

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has now released Regulatory Guide 267 Oversight of the Australian Financial Complaints Authority ahead of the 1 November 2018 transition.

The RG sets out how ASIC will perform their oversight role in relation to the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) and includes guidance regarding members AFCA membership obligations.

ASIC has noted that it will retain its existing guidance under RG 139 until all complaints made under the existing schemes have been resolved and also stated, "Licensees and credit representatives must continue to maintain their EDR [external dispute resolution] membership through the transitional period, including paying membership and other scheme fees in full as required."

Download RG 267 Oversight of the Australian Financial Complaints Authority


ASIC Regulatory Guide 165 Internal and External Dispute Resolution

Thursday, June 28, 2018 - Posted by Michael McCulloch

The Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) has recently released a revised version of Regulatory Guide 165 - Licensing: Internal and External Dispute Resolution.

The guide, which should be read in conjunction with RG139, which is currently in an amended draft form, specifically updates the transitional arrangements for disclosure of AFCA contact details in final response letters and "delay letter". An extract of which has been reproduced below:

AFCA will commence receiving complaints about financial service providers (including superannuation trustees and RSA providers), credit providers, credit service providers or unlicensed COI lenders on 1 November 2018.

To promote consumer awareness of their rights to pursue a complaint in the transition to commencement of AFCA, these providers and lenders must:

• ensure that IDR final response letters and ‘delay letters’ (see RG 165.92) issued on or after 21 September 2018 and before 1 November 2018 include references to both the relevant predecessor EDR scheme (which will be able to receive complaints only up until 31 October 2018) and AFCA (which will be able to receive complaints on and after 1 November 2018)—we have set out example text below for IDR final response letters; and

• ensure that such letters issued on or after 1 February 2019 include references to AFCA but not the predecessor EDR schemes. Letters issued between 1 November 2018 and 1 February 2019 may continue to include references to both the predecessor EDR scheme and AFCA, provided it is clear that only AFCA can receive complaints after 1 November 2018.

Example text for members of the Financial Ombudsman Service:

If you are not satisfied with our response, you may lodge a complaint:

• with the Financial Ombudsman Service Australia if lodged before 1 November 2018:

Online: www.fos.org.au
Email: info@fos.org.au
Phone: 1800 367 287
Mail: Financial Ombudsman Service Limited
GPO Box 3
Melbourne VIC 3001; or

• with the Australian Financial Complaints Authority if lodged on or after 1 November 2018:

Online: www.afc.org.au
Email: info@afc.org.au
Phone: 1800 931 678
Mail: Australian Financial Complaints Authority
GPO Box 3
Melbourne VIC 3001

Download RG165 May 2018


FOS Admits Error In Final Determination

Thursday, June 28, 2018 - Posted by Michael McCulloch

The Financial Services Royal Commission has recently heard evidence from a widow that the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) made a Determination that she should pay her deceased husband's business loans worth $226,000 over a period of 12 to 18 months.

The evidence was highlighted after the widow, Jennifer Low, was pursued by Suncorp for the repayment of business loans that were provided to her and her late husband after a workplace accident claimed Mr Low's life in 2016. It is understood that Ms Low approached the Consumer Action Law Centre for assistance when Ms Low proposed to pay off the outstanding debt over the loans original 17 year term with monthly repayments of $1,111 which was higher than the contractual repayment however FOS declined her proposal.

FOS found that it would be reasonable for Ms Low to repay the loan, interest free, within 12 to 18 months or a maximum of 5 years. During the hearing, Phillip Field, Lead Ombudsman for Banking and Finance was forced to explain his decision where he claimed that he did not want Ms Low to be still paying the debt in her 80's. Mr Field told the royal commission, "What I had in mind was that situation where you had somebody who was in their 60s paying it until they’re 80. And certainly, from my perspective, if a bank were to lend to somebody in that scenario, I would regard that as not reasonable." He went on to say in the witness box, "In hindsight, I don’t think that was the correct thing to do. I think I should have accepted that the [Consumer Action Law Centre] position was correct and then got on the phone to the bank then and there to try and resolve the matter. I should have said that… once the arrears were cleared on — and at the time of that call it was, but provided the arrears — any arrears on the interest-free loan were also cleared, then if she could make those payments, she was entitled to do so and it would be interest-free until it was paid off."

While the Low Family has not yet accepted Suncorp's offer to extend the repayment period to 5 years instead of 12-18 months, Mr Field said that he expects the bank to change their position and allow Ms Low to make monthly principal-only repayments for the duration of the loan as per her original proposal.

Source: mortgagebusiness - May 2018



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