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Consumer News

CIO's Consumer News and Guides provide information to assist consumers with approaching their financial services provider with a complaint. The Consumer Guide gives a helpful summary of what the consumer should do before directing their complaint on to CIO, in terms of firstly looking to resolve the issue through Internal Dispute Resolution (IDR) with their financial services provider.


2016 

 

This issue contains information about financial counsellors conferences, FSPs filing police reports, systemic issues, recent case studies, withdrawn complaints, quarterly statistics, and more.

 

This issue contains information about our outreach program, systemic issues, recent case studies, 10th edition rules, quarterly statistics and more.

 

Topics in this issue: 

    • Family violence,
    • Systemic issues update,
    • Amendments to CIO's Rules,
    • 2016 EDR Forum, 
    • Unjust transaction case study, and more

Read CIO Consumer News - June 2016 

 

Topics in this issue: 

  • Revised process to allow consumers to have adverse findings reviewed by the Ombudsman
  • Events in Autumn 2016
  • Systemic issues update
  • New Decisions published
  • Complaint statistics third quarter 2015/16
  • Case study: Unconscionable conduct

Read CIO Consumer News - April 2016 

 

Topics in this issue: 

  • New Determinations published
  • CIO at financial counsellors' conferences  
  • Complaint statistics first quarter 2015/2016

Read CIO Consumer News - January 2016 



2015

 

Topics in this issue: 

  • Outreach in Spring 2015
  • Visit to the NT
  • New financial hardship guide
  • Older CALD people and risks related to using homes as security for loans
  • Systemic issues and serious misconduct investigations – key themes
  • Complaint statistics fourth quarter 2014/2015

Read CIO Consumer News - August 2015

 

Topics in this issue: 

  • Awareness and outreach
  • Improving accessibility
  • Credit repair exclusion update
  • Privacy Awareness Week
  • Complaint statistics third quarter 2014/2015

Read CIO Consumer News - May 2015

 

CIO is a proud partner of Privacy Awareness Week (PAW) 2015. PAW is an initiative of the Asia-Pacific Privacy Authorities, held every year to promote awareness of privacy issues and the importance of the protection of personal information. This year, PAW is being held from 3–9 May.

The theme for 2015 is Privacy everydayPrivacy should be an essential component of everyday life, including in transactions such as internet banking, social media and online shopping. We recognise that our stakeholders value their privacy, and we make your privacy important to us everyday. 

You can find out more about how we protect your privacy by reading our Privacy Policy. Our policy addresses the following issues amongst others: what kind of personal information we collect, how we collect personal information, how we store your personal information, how you can access and correct your personal information.

PAW resources for consumers

Here are some tips from the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner to help you protect your own personal information:

  • Know your privacy right
  • Read privacy policies and notices
  • Always ask why, how and who — this will help you to know how your personal information is going to be used
  • Check your credit report
  • Protect yourself online
  • Be aware of your mobile security
  • Use security software
  • Be careful what you share on social media
  • Don't leave your personal information lying around — make sure your records are properly destroyed
  • Beware of scams

10 tips to protect your privacy [PDF]

PAW resources for financial services providers

Summary of Australian Privacy Principles (AAP)
Training: PowerPoint slides
Guide:Handling Privacy Complaints
Guide: Privacy management framework: enabling compliance and encouraging good practice
Fact sheet: Credit reporting in Australia



2014

 

The Credit and Investments Ombudsman (CIO), previously known as COSL, is approved by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission under Regulatory Guide 139.  The Regulatory Guide provides that the CIO must adjust the compensation cap every three years using the higher of the increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) or the increase in Male Total Average Weekly Earnings (MTAWE).

CIO announces that the monetary compensation limit (MCL) applying to each claim for complaints received from 1 January 2015 will be $309,000. 

A complaint may contain more than one claim, with each claim being separately subject to the monetary compensation limit.  In other words, separate claims by the same complainant will not be aggregated for the purpose of determining a maximum claim.

CIO’s current MCL is $280,000 per claim.

If you wish to discuss this matter further, please contact our Client Services team at info@cio.org.au or 1800 138 422. 

 

The annual general meeting of members of the Credit Ombudsman Service Limited passed a special resolution on 19 November 2014 to change the name of the company to 'Credit and Investments Ombudsman Limited'. The EDR scheme/service that is operated by the company will be known as 'Credit and Investments Ombudsman' (CIO).

The change of name is not part of a re-branding exercise or intended to signal a change in the way we conduct ourselves; rather, it is simply intended to more accurately reflect the composition of COSL’s existing membership, which has for some time also included financial advisers and managed investments schemes.

 

Topics in this issue: 

  • Change of name
  • New Consumer Director
  • Community outreach
  • Annual Report on Operation 2013/2014
  • Complaint statistics first quarter 2014/2015

Read COSL Consumer News - December 2014

 
The Board of the Credit Ombudsman Service Limited (COSL) announced the appointment of Ms Amanda Barker as the new non-executive consumer director of the company, effective 22 October 2014.
 
Ms Barker is well known for her work with culturally and linguistically diverse communities. Indeed, she has been nominated for the Prime Minister's Community Award. Her team was awarded the ASIC Australia Day Award.
 
Ms Barker was the Senior Manager of the Community Outreach Program at the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), where she was employed to engage more meaningfully with vulnerable and disadvantaged communities.
 
Ms Barker's experience ranges from individual casework to policy reform and educating consumers in relation to consumer credit. She has worked collaboratively with government departments that fund programs for these target groups and has provided guidance and advice about policy settings and service delivery.
 
Mr Mark Scanlon, COSL’s Chairman, congratulated Ms Barker on her appointment and noted: “Ms Barker is exceptionally well qualified for the appointment as COSL's new Consumer Director given her experience working in consumer advocacy and consumer protection, particularly in relation to consumer credit.”
 
“Her acknowledged stakeholder engagement and management skills and reputation, dealing particularly with the vulnerable and disadvantaged, will contribute to the effectiveness of COSL's work in this area. I look forward to working with Ms Barker in continuing to develop COSL as a leading external dispute resolution scheme,” Mr Scanlon said.
 
“Ms Barker replaces Ms Karen Cox who stood down from the Board on 27 August 2014. My Board, staff and I are indebted to her for her input into the development and continued growth of COSL,” continued Mr Scanlon. 
 

The Credit Ombudsman Service Limited (COSL) today released its Annual Report on Operations 2013-2014.

Highlights include:

  • consumers made more than 26,600 enquiries
     
  • complaints about financial hardship and credit listings continue to be the largest source of complaints
     
  • complaint numbers have continued to increase, up 20% in the last 12 months
     
  • significant improvements to timelines: 57% of complaints were resolved within three months and 76% in six months
     
  • 46% of complaints were resolved with positive outcomes for consumers
     
  • the number of complaints closed by COSL increased by 28%
     
  • 18,300 financial services providers are now members of COSL.

According to Mr Raj Venga, Credit Ombudsman, "Every year, we receive an increasing number of complaints.  This year, we received 4,513 complaints, or a  20% increase from the previous year. Despite this, I’m pleased to say that we have closed 40% more complaints this year than the last, with 57% of complaints resolved within three months and 76% within six months." 

"Financial hardship complaints are being resolved within six months and the more complicated credit complaints are being resolved within 18 months.  By the end of December 2014, we expect no financial hardship complaint to have been open with us for more than four months, and no credit complaints for more than twelve months. Our standards and quality of work have not been allowed to suffer by our having significantly reduced our timelines", Mr Venga added.

Financial hardship complaints make up 29% of the complaints we receive. The main underlying causes of the financial hardship complaints we see are unemployment or reduced income (49%, previously 57%), illness of the borrower or their family member (27%, previously 22%), followed closely by cost of living, including other debt (9%, previously 4%), business failure (7%, previously 7%) and relationship breakdown (6%, previously 7%).

24% of complaints we receive relate to credit reporting. Forty systemic issues and instances of serious misconduct were identified.

The Annual Report on Operations also sets out the number of complaints that were made against named financial services providers.  We have included an explanatory statement to give some context to our report by explaining to readers that the number and nature of complaints we receive about financial services providers may be influenced by a number of factors.  For example, it may well be the case that the total number of complaints about a particular member is miniscule when compared to the size of their business” Mr Venga concluded.

 

Topics in this issue: 

  • Credit Ombudsman slams unacceptable behaviour by credit repair firms
  • COSL supporting major mental health services summit in Perth
  • COSL explained step-by-step
  • Financial hardship cases a priority for COSL
  • Tips on dealing with us
  • Complaint statistics fourth quarter 2013/2014
  • COSL appoints new Industry Director

Read COSL Consumer News - September 2014

 

The Board of the Credit Ombudsman Service Limited (COSL) is pleased to announce the appointment of Mr Matt Lawler as the new non-executive industry director of the company, effective 1 September 2014.

 
Mr Lawler is the Chief Executive Officer of the ASX-listed financial services firm, Yellow Brick Road ('YBR'), and has held that position since April 2011. Prior to joining YBR, Mr Lawler held executive roles in National Australia Bank and MLC.  
 
Mr Mark Scanlon, COSL’s Chairman, congratulated Mr Lawler on his appointment and noted: “Mr Lawler is well known to industry and is exceptionally well-qualified for the role of COSL's new industry director due to his background in broker distribution channels and financial services generally”.
 
“Given finance brokers comprise a substantial portion of COSL's membership base, Mr Lawler's acknowledged experience in the finance broker space will contribute to the effectiveness of COSL's work in this area.  I look forward to working with Mr Lawler in continuing to develop COSL as a leading external dispute resolution scheme”, Mr Scanlon said.  
 

“I’m very much looking forward to working with the Board and management team at COSL. In my view, a healthy consumer-focussed industry can only promote a strong, accessible and robust consumer dispute resolution process,” said Mr Lawler.

“Mr Lawler replaces Ms Vicky Edema who will retire from the Board later this month.  Ms Edema has been a non-executive director of COSL since 2005 and has ably represented COSL's finance broker and mortgage manager members over the years. My Board, staff and I are indebted to her for her considerable input into the development and continued growth of COSL in the last nine years” continued Mr Scanlon.
 

Topics in this issue: 

  • Working with stakeholders across Australia
  • COSL 9th Edition Rules – summary of important changes
  • Financial hardship contacts now published on COSL website
  • On-going training for COSL staff
  • Complaint statistics third quarter 2013/2014
  • FCA Conference and EDR Forum 2014
  • Introducing COSL's Board Members

Follow this link to read the full version >> COSL Consumer News - June 2014

 

After consulting extensively with key stakeholders, including members of COSL, the 9th Edition COSL Rules, as approved by the COSL Board and ASIC, were released on 5 May 2014. The updated Rules apply to all complaints received by COSL on and from that date.

Among others, the changes cover:

  • Recognition of COSL by the OAIC to deal with privacy-related complaints
  • Time limits to make a complaint
  • Awarding interest
  • Indirect loss or non-financial loss
  • Orders that can be made for privacy-related complaints
  • Complaints that are not covered by COSL
  • Internal dispute resolution timeframes
  • Further exemptions for ceasing enforcement action
  • Where the FSP is not the proper respondent
  • Giving a consumer an opportunity to respond to an adverse decision by us
  • Refinements to the definitions of complaint, consumer, enforcement action and financial services

Read COSL 9th Edition Rules – summary of important changes


 

Topics in this issue: 

  • Outreach campaign for 2014
  • Information about Credit Repair agencies
  • How to obtain your free credit file
  • Finding a FSP's Complaint Contact
  • Consumer information in community languages
  • Enforcement action and IDR
  • COSL's recognition as an EDR scheme by the OAIC

Read COSL Consumer News - March 2014

 

All consumers are entitled to obtain their credit file for free from credit reporting bodies. 

To request your credit file, follow any of the links below and fill out the request form accordingly: 

Free reports usually take up to 10 working days.

If you would like to get your credit file sooner, most credit reporting bodies offer an expedited service at an extra charge.

For more information on obtaining your credit report, review the fact sheet by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.

 

CIO has become increasingly aware of some 'credit repair' agencies which offer to 'fix' a consumer’s credit records for a considerable fee.

The credit repair industry is not regulated. This means that anyone can offer credit repair services. No qualifications are required for practitioners. 

The agencies obtain the consumer’s authority to access their credit records and then make a complaint to the credit reporting body or the credit provider that certain credit entries are incorrect and should be removed.
 
The credit repair agencies often also approach the various Ombudsmen, whose services are available to consumers free of charge, to have the entries removed.  Indeed, about a third of all complaints CIO receives about alleged incorrectly listed credit defaults are from credit repair agencies.
 
The results of a survey conducted by the Energy and Water Ombudsman NSW (EWON) revealed that the minimum average fee per listing was around $1,000 despite the fact that in the overwhelming majority of cases, the debt amount for which the consumer was credit listed was under $500 and sometimes as little as $120.
 
What some credit repair agencies do not inform consumers is:
 
  • if a default or other negative listing is correct, in most cases it cannot be removed from their credit records,
  • they could approach the various Ombudsmen schemes (such as CIO, FOS, TIO, EWON and EWOV) to investigate incorrect listings for no charge, or
  • the credit agencies themselves might be using these free Ombudsmen services despite charging consumers a fee.
Our approach to complaints about default listings and serious credit infringements is set out in our  Position Statement 4.
 
If you think a listing has been incorrectly made on your credit records and you cannot resolve the problem with your credit provider, you can make a complaint to CIO for free by completing a  complaint form.
 
If you are unsure whether you can make a complaint to us or you have questions about our process, you can call us on 1800 138 422.



2013

 

Topics in this issue: 

  • New COSL consumer info packs
  • Subscribe to COSL Consumer News online
  • COSL sponsoring 2013 FCAWA Conference
  • COSL at the Financial Counsellors' Association of NSW Annual Conference
  • COSL at the Annual Credit Law Conference

Read COSL Consumer News - October 2013

 

Topics in this issue: 

  • COSL at a glance
  • Recent complaint statistics
  • New COSL website
  • Complaint decisions released on COSL website
  • Financial Counselling Australia Conference and External Dispute Resolution Forum
  • Tips from the Ombudsman for consumers experiencing financial hardship
  • Case study: how we can help a consumer in financial hardship

Read COSL Consumer News - June 2013