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Issue 31 - October 2017

Chief Ombudsman's Message

Welcome to this edition of The FOS Circular

In this edition we launch the FOS Approach to Financial Elder Abuse. Elder abuse can take many forms and appropriate safeguards need to be put in place to help protect vulnerable consumers when they obtain a financial service or conduct a financial transaction with a financial services provider (FSP). The FOS Approach sets out how we will consider disputes involving financial elder abuse.

We also highlight the outcomes of our successful Conciliation Pilot, our plans to extend the use of conciliation more widely and the appointment of the FOS Independent Assessor. We have also published a key determination on harassment by personal visit.

Earlier this month we published our Annual Review and the Comparative Tables. We received 39,479 disputes in 2016-17, a 16% increase from 2015-16. The increase was driven by continued growth in general insurance disputes. The number of general insurance disputes received (13,200) increased by 2,612, accounting for about 38% of the overall increase.

While we have continued to see a high number of disputes received in the July to September 2017 quarter, we have seen some improvement in the proportion of disputes resolved directly by FSPs in Registration and Referral, the first stage of our dispute process. This has contributed to a small drop in the number of disputes we accepted into case management last quarter. While there may be some seasonal and other one off factors involved in this reduction, we are hopeful we will see this trend continue in coming months.

You can find out more about our upcoming member events, which are continuing in various locations around the country over the next month. We also profile Gemma Mitchell, Managing Solicitor at the Consumer Credit Legal Service (WA) Inc. CCLSWA is a small not-for-profit charitable organisation which provides legal advice and representation to consumers in WA in the areas of credit, banking and finance and Australian consumer law.

This edition also features updates on unpaid FOS determinations, systemic issuesthe Family Violence Working Group and Code Compliance and Monitoring

The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) legislation was introduced in to the Senate and referred to the Senate Economics Legislation Committee. However, the Bill was not considered in the last Senate sittings in October. We will need to wait and see what happens to the legislation when the Senate reconvenes in early November. We will keep you updated.  

In the meantime, we are continuing our strong focus on resolving disputes fairly and efficiently, utilising the skills of our professional and experienced staff. 

Finally, a reminder that our 1300 number has been discontinued. Please ensure the 1800 FOS AUS number is in your Financial Services Guide or Credit Guide to comply with ASIC Regulatory Guide 165. From 31 December 2017 the old 1300 number will be disconnected completely.  

If you have comments or suggestions about anything you read in The FOS Circular, we are keen to hear from you. Please let us know at

Shane Tregillis

Chief Ombudsman