The number of Canberrans who made formal complaints to the federal government’s financial dispute watchdog increased by almost 20 per cent in the past fiscal year.
In the 2019-20 financial year, 1353 complaints were received by the Australian Financial Complaints Authority from ACT residents, or an average of 112 complaints per month.
That’s compared to the 766 complaints received from ACT residents between November 2018 – when the authority was established – and June 2019, an average of 95 complaints every month.
Figures from the authority revealed a 17.75 per cent increase in the number of complaints made per month from the ACT about financial institutions.
Of the more than 1300 complaints received in the past financial year, 41 per cent were related to credit, while 28 per cent were complaints about general insurance.
The remaining complaints concerned superannuation, 9 per cent, deposit taking, 9 per cent, payment systems, 6 per cent, investments, 4 per cent and life insurance at 2 per cent. Data from the authority showed 80 of the complaints made in the ACT were related to COVID-19.
The ACT complaints made up just 2 per cent of the national total for the 2019-20 financial year, where 80,546 complaints were made.
Nationally, the number of complaints increased by 13.7 per cent, with more than 5000 complaints due to coronavirus-related issues.
The authority’s chief executive David Locke said more than $250 million was secured in refund to consumers.
Mr Locke said despite the financial hit experienced by many as a result of coronavirus, there were fewer complaints made to the authority relating to coronavirus than initially anticipated.
“We commend financial institutions for their quick response to the pandemic,” he said.
“As always, we encourage banks and insurers to maintain open and transparent communication with their customers about the support available to them if they’re experiencing financial difficulty.”
Despite the relatively low number of complaints related to coronavirus, Mr Locke said he expected that number to rise in coming months.
“We anticipate seeing more financial difficulty related COVID-19 complaints over the next six months, as government support, such as JobKeeper payments, are wound back, along with the end of financial for initiatives such as a ban on rental evictions and mortgage pausing,” he said.
A spokeswoman for the Australian Banking Association said banks were working on providing better complaint handling.
“The banking code of practice also sets out clear obligations on how our member banks deal with complaints,” the spokeswoman said.
“The vast majority of customers have their complaints successfully resolved.”