Over the 2019-2020 financial year, Australians lodged 80,546 complaints with the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) – a 13.7% increase in monthly complaints compared to the financial year before.
Between 1 July 2019 and 30 June 2020, consumers secured $258.6m in compensation and refunds, with 73% of the conflicts settled by agreement or in favour of the complainant, with banks being the most complained about financial institution.
According to CEO and chief ombudsman David Locke, most complaints were about credit, insurance claims, and superannuation.
Notably, AFCA saw less complaints relating to COVID-19 than anticipated, an outcome it attributed to the proactive response taken by financial firms.
Since the virus was declared a pandemic in March, AFCA has received 4,773 complaints relating to COVID, with the majority relating to general insurance claims and travel insurance complaints.
The second most pressing issue for consumers was credit, bringing in 1,711 complaints with almost a quarter regarding a failure to respond to requests for assistance.
There were also 791 COVID complaints about superannuation, a majority of which related to early access of super.
“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 firm initiatives such as a ban on rental evictions, and mortgage pausing,” said Locke.
Since its inception in November 2018, AFCA has received 127,694 complaints and secured $371.1m in compensation and refunds direct to consumers.
Credit has been the issue consumers have complained most about (43%) and a majority of complaints have been about banks (35%), followed by general insurers (19%) and credit providers (13%).