Before you make a complaint, we encourage you to go through your financial firm’s internal dispute resolution (IDR) process. Here are some tips to help you navigate this.
Contact your financial firm about your complaint
You can do this by phone, in person or in writing. Let them know about the problem or issue you’re having and explain what you’d like them to do to resolve or address it.
Have the details of the issue or problem available when you’re talking to your financial firm. If you have an idea about the type of outcome you want, this is also helpful. We understand that dealing with a financial problem can be frustrating and cause strong emotion; however, it is important to engage in a respectful manner.
You can find contact details for financial firms using our online search tool.
Make a formal complaint to your financial firm
If you aren’t happy with your financial firm’s response to your concerns, or the problem can’t be fixed or sorted, you can ask to make a formal complaint to them. Financial firms that are AFCA members should have a process to resolve complaints with consumers internally, before coming to AFCA as the external dispute resolution scheme. This process is known as 'internal dispute resolution' or IDR.
Find the details of your financial firm’s internal complaints area or person
The contact details for the complaints area, or person, at your financial firm should be on their website, in their Financial Services Guide or the relevant Product Disclosure Statement. You can also search for the contact details via Google or other online search engines. If you call your financial firm’s general telephone number, they should be able to give you the details for how to make a formal complaint.
Ways you can complain
You may be able to complain to your financial firm in a range of ways including by phone, online, email or by sending a letter. Many complaints are resolved this way. Often it can be best to outline your concerns in writing, or speak with your financial firm by phone and then confirm your concerns in writing to them.
ASIC’s MoneySmart recommends that formal complaints should be made in writing by letter or email, and you should:
- include the word 'complaint' in the heading or subject line
- include your name, contact details and the date
- set out the problem clearly and stick to the facts
- include copies of relevant documents such as receipts or invoices.
Sample letters that show you how to do this are available on the MoneySmart website.
Documents you might need
Different information and documents will normally be required for different types of complaints, but the general categories of documents and information following will be most helpful:
Evidence/supporting documents: This is the information, reports, assessments, photos, receipts, correspondence, bank and other financial statements that provide background to your complaint and that are likely to be relevant to the issues you have raised.
It is also important not to write notes directly onto complaint documents as it can make it difficult to interpret your comments and it also changes the primary evidence.
Claim details: This is the remedy, including any sum of money, or other outcome that you are seeking to resolve your complaint. Any relevant calculations of a claim for financial loss or compensation should be provided. You should also include documents, or references to documents that help us understand how you calculated your claim.
Timeline/chronology of events: This should clearly explain what happened and when. The more complex the complaint, the more important it is to have this information. It also helps everyone to understand the order of events that have happened in relation to your complaint.
The document checklist below might help you identify what is relevant and what is not.
Getting a formal response from your financial firm
Your financial firm should try to resolve your complaint in a timely way. There are mandatory time limits on how long a response should take – your financial firm can provide you with details on this.
Their IDR response should tell you:
- that their IDR process has concluded
- the final outcome of your complaint at IDR
- about your right to take your complaint to AFCA if you are unhappy with the decision at IDR and provide AFCA’s contact details
- whether there are time limits to complain to AFCA and if you should act promptly, or otherwise consult the AFCA website to find out if, or when, the time limit relevant to your circumstances expires.
If you’re not happy with your firm's IDR
If you’re still not happy with your firm's internal response, you can complain to AFCA.
Use our document checklist to identify all relevant evidence in support of your complaint. Gathering information may be difficult depending on how long ago the events of your complaint took place. Speak with your financial firm or talk to us if you’d like some guidance.