Click the button below to download a PDF copy of the factsheet.
The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) is an independent, not-for-profit, nongovernment organisation.
We help individuals and small businesses resolve complaints about financial products and services.
Our service is fair, free and independent.
We stream complaints based on the issues raised in the following ways:
- Fast Track
- Standard and Complex
- Financial Difficulty
See our Complaint Resolution Process for more information about the steps we follow.
When we receive a complaint we check if it fits within our Rules.
Key facts – our Rules
The Rules set out:
- who can lodge a complaint
- the types of complaints we consider
- how we resolve complaints
- the remedies we offer; and
- other operational guidelines.
When dealing with complaints we will:
- explain the steps we will take before we make a decision
- provide everyone an opportunity to present their views to us
- give appropriate opportunities to provide information and documentation.
We will also
- do what in our opinion is appropriate to resolve the complaint in a cooperative, efficient, timely and fair manner
- work with the minimum formality and technicality
- be as transparent as possible
- act in accordance with our confidentiality and privacy obligations.
Our Rules came into effect on 1 November 2018 following stakeholder consultation and ASIC approval. We replaced the Financial Ombudsman Service, the Credit and Investments Ombudsman and the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal.
You can download our Operational Guidelines and Transitional Superannuation Guide which explain the Rules in more detail from our website www.afca.org.au/rules.
Complaints we consider
We can consider a broad range of financial problems, including:
- errors in banking transactions and credit listings
- difficulty repaying loans, credit cards and short-term finance
- denial of an insurance claim (such as car, home and contents, pets, travel, income protection and trauma)
- inappropriate investment advice
- a trustee’s decision about the distribution of a superannuation benefit.
We may be able to help if a financial firm has acted unfairly by:
- breaking a law
- breaching a relevant Code of Practice
- not meeting standards of good practice in the relevant industry sector.
Complaints we cannot consider
There are some types of complaints that we can’t deal with, for example:
- complaints with a business that is not a member of AFCA at the time the complaint is lodged
- complaints already dealt with by a court, tribunal, or a predecessor scheme
- some complaints subject to legal proceedings
- specific insurance products such as compulsory third-party insurance, private health insurance and some commercial general insurance products
- a financial firm’s assessment of the credit risk posed by a borrower (with exceptions in cases of irresponsible lending or financial hardship).
See Section C of the Rules for more information.
Generally, there is a claim limit of $1.085 million.
From 1 January 2021
We can award up to $542,500 compensation in most claims of direct financial loss, except:
|Claim type||Compensation cap|
|General insurance broking||$271,500|
|Income stream life insurance||$14,500 per month|
|Uninsured third-party motor vehicle claims||$16,300|
|Small business loan (the credit facility must be less than $5 million)||$1,085,000|
|Primary producer loan||$2,170,000|
|Guarantor has offered their home as security||unlimited|
|Indirect financial loss per claim (such as loss of profits)||$5,400|
|Non-financial loss per claim (such as an unusual amount of physical inconvenience)||$5,400|
Interest and limited costs may be awarded on top of these caps.
See Section D of the Rules for more information.
Action we may require a financial firm 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 financial firm (or its representative or agent), including varying the applicable interest rate on a loan
- reinstate, rectify or properly perform a contract
- vary the terms of a credit contract in cases of financial hardship
- meet a claim under an insurance policy.
During the complaint process, the financial firm must not:
- begin legal proceedings against the complainant relating to the complaint
- pursue debt recovery proceedings instituted before lodgement, except to the minimum extent necessary to preserve the financial firm’s legal rights (unless the complainant has taken steps beyond lodging a defence)
- recover a debt that is the subject of the complaint, protect assets securing that debt, assign any right to recover that debt, or list a default on a credit file.
However, we may consent to the financial firm taking certain action while the complaint remains open by imposing conditions.
Financial firms can also continue to charge interest while we are considering a complaint.
We have a tailored method for complaints in the financial difficulty stream. We will review the financial firm’s response to the complainant’s request for assistance. In most cases, a telephone conciliation conference is mandatory. A representative of the complainant may also participate. Each party must have the authority to settle the dispute in the conference.
Frequently asked questions
What information needs to be provided?
Financial firms: any relevant or applicable contracts, account statements, policy documents, diary notes and dates, reports, emails, analyses, expert opinions, plans, notes, statements from staff or other document.
Complainants: all relevant information they have.
Can I ask for more time to resolve a complaint?
You can ask us to extend the time if special circumstances would make an extension reasonable.
When will a determination be made by a single ombudsman or an adjudicator, and when will it be made by a panel?
We will decide how the determination is made by considering a range of factors; the amount of the loss, the complexity and significance of the complaint and any expertise required.
What must the financial firm do if there has been a binding determination requiring action by the financial firm?
Generally, financial firms must implement the determination within 30 days if it is accepted by the complainant.
|Adjudicator||Decision maker (Fast Track stream).|
|Concilliation||A telephone conference call that includes the complainant, the financial firm and an AFCA concilliator.|
|Compensation cap||The maximum value of a remedy we may award for a claim.|
|Complainant||Person who has submitted the complaint and is in dispute with the financial firm.|
|Determination||AFCA’s final decision.|
|EDR||External dispute resolution.|
|IDR||Internal dispute resolution.|
|Ombudsman||Decision maker (Standard & Complex streams).|
|Panel||Group formed to make a determination, consisting of a Chair (usually an ombudsman), an industry and consumer representative.|
|Preliminary assessment||Our reasons for any conclusions made about the merits of the complaint. May be delivered verbally or in writing.|
See Section E of the Rules for more information.