Media release - COSL releases its Annual Report on Operations 2013-2014

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 40%
  • 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.

Editors please note:

Credit Ombudsman Service Limited (COSL) is an alternative dispute resolution scheme approved by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission to provide consumers with an alternative to legal proceedings for resolving disputes with financial services providers who are members of COSL. These include finance brokers, non-bank lenders, building societies, mutual banks, credit unions, financial planners, finance companies, debt purchasers, small amount short term lenders and mortgage managers.