07-156 New online help for people making a complaint
Tuesday 12 June 2007
ASIC today announced improvements to its online services that will make it easier for consumers and investors to make a complaint about a licensed financial services business.
ASIC maintains a public register, available on the ASIC website atwww.asic.gov.au/search, of all businesses licensed to conduct financial services in Australia including banks, credit unions, insurance companies, stockbrokers and financial planners. From today, information contained on the register will include details of the external dispute resolution (EDR) scheme(s) each licensee belongs to.‘By law, all licensed financial services businesses dealing with retail clients must belong to an EDR scheme approved by ASIC. These schemes help to resolve complaints between financial services businesses and their customers when they cannot be resolved using the firm’s internal procedures. EDR schemes are designed to be independent, quick and informal alternatives to going to court’, Mr Greg Tanzer, ASIC’s Executive Director of Consumer Protection said.
‘Our experience tells us that it can often be difficult for consumers, or those acting on their behalf, to know which EDR scheme to contact. By making this information available in this form, we hope to make the system more accessible and transparent’, Mr Tanzer said.
The seven ASIC-approved EDR schemes covering different sectors of the financial services industry are:
the Banking and Financial Services Ombudsman;
the Credit Ombudsman Service;
the Credit Union Dispute Resolution Centre;
the Financial Co-operative Dispute Resolution Scheme;
the Financial Industry Complaints Service;
Insurance Brokers Disputes; and
the Insurance Ombudsman Service.
In addition, the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal (SCT) is a statutory EDR scheme that deals with complaints about superannuation providers.
Between them, the EDR schemes deal with over 100,000 complaints and enquiries from consumers and investors annually. In addition, all seven EDR schemes participate in a common call centre for initial enquiries and complaints from consumers and investors. Anyone phoning the call centre on 1300 78 08 08 will be told how to progress their complaint, or transferred directly to the appropriate EDR scheme.
Dealing with a licensed financial business affords consumers and investors certain legal protections. Whilst these protections are limited, and do not guarantee investment performance, dealing with an unlicensed entity provides no legal protection whatsoever.
‘Consumers and investors are urged to always check the ASIC register and make sure anyone they are planning to do business with is appropriately licensed before they proceed. If online access to the register is not possible, this information is also available by contacting ASIC’s Infoline on 1300 300 630’, Mr Tanzer said.
All consumers and investors have the right to make a complaint about an unsatisfactory financial product or service. ASIC produces a free consumer guide, You Can Complain, about how to make an effective complaint. Ask FIDO, ASIC’s consumer website at www.fido.gov.au for a copy or for more information about how to complain. Alternatively, call ASIC’s Infoline on 1300 300 630.