For all of the heartbreaking stories that came out of the banking royal commission, few Australians have heard of an organisation that can assist if they have been wronged by a financial institution.
The Australian Financial Complaints Authority is setting out on a nationwide roadshow to make consumers and small businesses aware that it can help guide them through the complaint process.
AFCA was established in November 2018 as a non-government organisation to provide free, fair and independent help with financial disputes.
AFCA’s board chair Helen Coonan said a survey found just three per cent of respondents were able to name the authority without being prompted.
Even so, in its first 10 months of operation, the authority has received over 60,000 financial complaints and helped award almost $145 million in compensation.
“AFCA has begun life at a gallop,” Ms Coonan, a former NSW Liberal senator and assistant treasurer in the Howard government, said at the authority’s official roadshow launch in Canberra on Thursday.
Products that attracted the most complaints were credit cards, home loans, personal loans and insurance, especially comprehensive car insurance and home building insurance.
The AFCA Financial Fairness Roadshow kicks off in Hobart on September 24 and will make a further 76 stops around the country, although its chief ombudsman David Locke told AAP it will probably end up being closer to 90.
“It’s important that Australians feel confident in bringing their financial complaints forward and we will be there to support each and every Aussie that we encounter on the road,” he said.
Under a special ruling that lasts until June 2020, AFCA can accept complaints dating back until 2008.