Credit Ombudsman releases its 2013 Annual Report on Operations

The Credit Ombudsman Service Limited (COSL) today released its Annual Report on Operations 2012-2013.

Highlights include:

  • financial hardship cases continued to feature as the single largest source of complaints,
  • complaint numbers have continued to increase, up 37% in the last 12 months, albeit at a less dramatic pace than in previous years,
  • consumers made more than 20,000 enquiries,
  • there was a 28% increase in the number of complaints that were closed in the last 12 months,
  • the number of participating financial services providers reached 17,000.

According to Mr Raj Venga, Credit Ombudsman, “the legislative landscape has been nothing short of dynamic. Significant law reform in relation to financial advice, credit and privacy, while aimed squarely at industry and intended to benefit consumers generally, has also had implications for us in our case management and training.”

“Regrettably, 32% of all complaints we receive relate in some way to financial hardship, specifically the failure of a lender to agree to a payment arrangement on grounds of financial hardship. This level of financial hardship complaints is similar to previous years and we do not anticipate a reduction in the forseeable future,” said Mr Venga.

“The underlying causes of financial hardship complaints have been, among others, unemployment or reduced income (57%), illness of the borrower or their family member (22%), business failure (7%), and relationship breakdown (7%),” observed Mr Venga.

COSL’s 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 financial services provider is miniscule when compared to the size of their business,” Mr Venga concluded.

Fifteen systemic issues and instances of serious misconduct were identified.