Complaints about banks, lenders and insurers
If you have borrowed money from a bank or other lender, or taken out an insurance policy, you could end up in a dispute with the credit provider or insurer. It is important to know how to go about resolving your dispute and where you may be able to get help.
Many complaints about financial services and products can be fixed quickly if you contact the service provider directly. Most have an internal dispute resolution process that explains how you can make a complaint. The process will also set out a time frame for responding to your complaint.
If contacting the bank, credit provider or insurer directly does not resolve the issue, there are other places you can go to get help.
- what happens once you ask for an internal review
- where else you can go if you need help with a complaint, and
- what you can do to avoid problems with financial products and services.
How long does the bank or insurer have to respond to my complaint?
Their complaints or internal dispute resolution policy will set out how long the bank, lender or insurer has to respond to your issue.
Generally, once they have received your complaint or request for an internal review, they must respond within 30 days. If the issue relates to a claim for financial hardship, the response must be made within 21 days (if you have provided any information requested) or 28 days if you have not..
What if the complaint can’t be resolved internally?
If you are unhappy with the response you receive from the internal review (or you do not receive a response within the set time frame), you may wish to lodge a complaint with the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA).
AFCA provides free dispute resolution for consumers (and some small businesses) who are unable to directly resolve a dispute with their financial services provider (sometimes called ‘financial firm’).
Dispute resolution is a process aimed at resolving disputes between parties without going to court.
Banks and other credit providers, financial planning firms, general insurers, insurance broking firms, and life insurers are some of the organisations required by legislation to be AFCA members.
If you choose to accept an AFCA decision in your favour (sometimes called ‘determination’), the decision must be followed by the financial services provider. Otherwise, if you don’t accept the decision, you can try other ways to resolve your dispute such as going to court.
Hints to avoid disputes
A common complaint about banking and financial products (including insurance policies) is that many consumers do not know exactly what they are signing up for. It is important to take time to 'read the fine print' and ask for more information if you are not sure about something. There can sometimes be 'cooling-off periods' where you can withdraw from the contract, but not everything comes with this option.
- know the fees, interest rates and charges that apply for services when you open a bank account, sign up for a credit card, or take out a loan
- have a full understanding of the terms and conditions of your accounts and loans, and
- read your insurance policy to see what things the policy covers, what exclusions or restrictions apply, and how claims are processed to check that it meets all of your needs.
Australian Securities and Investments Commission
For complaints about misconduct or illegal activity by companies and the financial services industry (including insurance companies, insurance brokers, superannuation funds and financial advisers).
- MoneySmart - How to complain
Information on how to complain about your financial problem.
- Australian Financial Complaints Authority
Reviewed: 27 October 2022