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What we do

Who are we?

The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) Australia offers fair, independent and accessible dispute resolution for consumers who are unable to resolve complaints with member financial services providers.

A not-for-profit, non-government organisation, FOS resolves disputes quickly and efficiently, providing a cheaper alternative than going to court. Our service is free of charge for applicants, with the costs of running the service being met by our members.

Our members include banks, insurers, credit providers, financial advisers and planners, debt collection agencies and other businesses that provide financial products and services.

How we help

We resolve disputes between consumers and financial services providers:

  • in a cooperative, efficient, timely and fair manner
  • with minimum formality and technicality, and
  • as transparently as possible, taking into account our obligations for confidentiality and privacy.

This involves understanding all aspects of a dispute without taking sides, and making decisions based on the specific facts and circumstance of each dispute.

Our operations are governed by our Terms of Reference, including:

Types of disputes we can consider

FOS can consider most disputes relating to:

  • banking and finance
  • home, contents, travel and life insurance
  • insurance broking
  • financial planning
  • managed funds
  • mortgage and finance broking
  • pooled superannuation funds
  • estate planning and management
  • traditional trustee services
Types of disputes we can't consider

FOS can't consider:

  • matters relating to a business that is not a member of FOS when the dispute is lodged
  • matters that have already been dealt with by a court, tribunal, arbitrator or another external dispute resolution scheme
  • some matters which are the subject of legal proceedings
  • specific insurance products, such as compulsory third party insurance or private health insurance
  • some commercial general insurance products, decisions of trustees of approved deposit funds and regulated superannuation funds
  • an FSP’s assessment of the credit risk posed by a borrower (with exceptions in cases of irresponsible lending or financial hardship
Remedies we may recommend

Here are examples of some of the types of actions FOS may require an FSP take:

  • pay a sum of money
  • forgive, or vary, a debt
  • release security over a debt
  • repay, waive or vary a fee or other amount paid, or owing to, the FSP or its representative or agent, including varying the applicable interest rate on a loan
  • reinstate, rectify or properly perform a contract
  • in cases of financial hardship, vary the terms of a credit contract
  • meet a claim under an insurance policy
Compensation caps (from 1 January 2018)

A compensation cap is the maximum value of a remedy that we may award for a claim. The TOR sets the levels of the caps. We may accept claims up to $500,000 (a single dispute can also contain more than one claim). However the monetary limit on awards we can make for a claim is $323,500 for all disputes, except:

  • general insurance broking: $174,000
  • income stream life insurance (per month): $8,700
  • uninsured third party motor vehicle claims: $5,000

The limit on consequential loss per claim is $3,500.

The limit on non-financial loss per claim is $3,000.

This applies even if the actual loss is more than the relevant limit. Disputes lodged before 2018 may be subject to lower limits. The limit does not apply to any interest of costs (to the extent these are awarded).

Time limits

Disputes must be lodged with us within six years of the applicant first becoming aware (or should have reasonably become aware) that they suffered the loss. For disputes involving variation of a credit contract as a result of financial hardship, an unjust transaction or unconscionable interest and other charges, the dispute must be lodged within two years of the credit contract ending. If the applicant received an internal dispute resolution (IDR) response, they must lodge their dispute with us within two years of that response.