Australians have lodged more than 70,000 complaints with the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) in the last year, as one particular complaint increased 48 per cent.
AFCA data for 2020-21 released on Monday shows that even as the overall number of financial complaints fell 12 per cent, there was a huge spike in personal transaction complaints.
Unauthorised personal transactions accounted for 29 per cent of those complaints.
“There’s no single reason for these increases but people transacting online more during COVID-19 will have contributed,” AFCA chief ombudsman David Locke said.
“Scams, which have accelerated during the pandemic, are also leading to growing complaints about transactions.”
Complaints about electronic banking also jumped 76 per cent, with mistaken internet payments accounting for 19 per cent of that increase.
“It’s important that consumers and financial service providers continue to work together to resolve issues quickly as they emerge,” Locke said.
AFCA secured more than $240 million from Australian banks, super funds, financial advisers and investment firms over the last 12 months, along with debt forgiveness, fee waivers and apologies.
It said around 70 per cent of complaints were resolved by agreement after AFCA facilitated discussions, and nearly 60 per cent were resolved within 60 days.
Credit cards in the spotlight
Credit cards accounted for 14 per cent of all complaints in 2020-21, followed by home loans and personal transaction accounts.
Unauthorised transactions and default listings were the most common reasons for complaints.
However, Locke said complaints involving financial difficulty were down around 40 per cent in a positive sign.
“However, it’s too early to say we’re out of the woods yet,” he said.
“It may be some months before we know the full impact of the end of government emergency support and assistance from financial firms such as deferred loan repayments. And, of course, we are still living with COVID-19.”