At AFCA, we help small businesses and sole traders find fair outcomes to problems with their financial firms – like banks and insurers. As a financial ombudsman service, we provide a free service to help you and your financial firm find a solution.
If you’ve made a complaint that’s gone unheard or unresolved, we can help. That’s what AFCA does.
How we define ‘small business’
AFCA defines a small business as an organisation with less than 100 employees.
This can be a partnership, incorporated trustee or a company (whether a primary production business or otherwise).
We also consider complaints from not-for-profit organisations, or clubs that are not registered charities if they carry on a business and have less than 100 employees.
If you are a registered charity, we can consider your complaint regardless of how many people you employ and whether or not you carry on a business.
For a business that is a part of a group of related companies, there is an important exclusion. We cannot consider your complaint if the group has 100 employees or more.
What can AFCA help with?
AFCA can help small businesses and sole traders sort out disagreements and complaints about…
Internet banking, business transaction accounts, ATMs, currency exchange and transaction errors.
Credit, finance and loans
Small business loans, business finance, commercial bills, hire purchases or leases, credit cards, lines of credit and overdrafts.
Note: AFCA cannot consider a complaint about a small business credit facility that exceeds $5 million.
Small business lending
When reviewing a complaint about small business lending, AFCA looks at the circumstances of the complaint alongside the obligations on small business lenders set out in statute, good industry practice and codes of practice.
Denial of insurance claims, including commercial property, computer and electronic equipment, fire or accidental damage, loss of profits/business interruption, machinery breakdowns, theft or loss of money.
Note: AFCA cannot consider cover in relation to Contractors All Risks; Fidelity Guarantee; Legal Liability (including Public Liability and Products Liability); Professional Indemnity; and Industrial Special Risks in respect of a Small Business Insurance Product.
Investments and financial advice
Inappropriate investment advice, shares, currency trading, and timeshare schemes.
These are just some of the complaints AFCA can help with, if you’re not sure whether your complaint is valid, get in touch.
Already contacted your financial firm?
If your complaint has gone unheard or unresolved.
Are you experiencing financial hardship?
Financial hardship is when you are having trouble repaying a loan or credit. If you are in difficulty you should contact your financial firm straight away.
If you are unhappy with your financial firm’s response, you can contact AFCA.
“Thank you for your valuable time last week and your kind listening ear – your professional manner and kind approach was a breath of fresh air.”
- Feedback from a consumer
How it works…
Contact your financial firm
Many complaints can be resolved by contacting your financial firm directly. Most financial firms have a complaints area that you can email, call or send a letter.
If you are not happy with the response, then contact AFCA.
If you receive a Statement of Claim or notification that the financial firm has started legal proceedings, contact AFCA immediately.
Lodge a complaint with AFCA
Making a complaint is easy. You can call, email, send a letter or use our simple online form at afca.org.au/complain
Reaching an outcome
AFCA will work with you and your financial firm to resolve your complaint.
This can include taking a closer look at the issue and helping to negotiate between you and the financial firm.
Most complaints to AFCA are resolved during this step.
If your complaint was not resolved through negotiation, AFCA can make a final decision.
We make our decisions based on what is fair, relevant laws, codes of practice and information provided by you and your financial firm.
“Our dispute teams are finding AFCA very fair and reasonable to deal with, and have noticed a positive change.”
- Feedback from a member
Frequently asked questions
What outcome can I expect?
There are many ways a complaint can be resolved. These include:
- refunding fees and charges you should not have paid
- paying an award for financial loss
- paying compensation for the inconvenience or upset you have experienced
- apologising for the treatment you received
Sometimes we decide that the financial firm has already taken steps to resolve a complaint fairly. If that’s the case, we will always explain why.
Will I need help lodging my complaint?
Our service is free to the public and easy to use. You do not need to pay someone to help you lodge a complaint with AFCA.
If you need help, you can appoint a representative to contact us on your behalf.
Find out more about the support available.
How long have I got to complain?
For most complaints, we will generally only be able to consider it if you make your complaint:
- within six years after you first became aware, or ‘should reasonably have become aware’, that you suffered the loss you want to complain about; or
- if you have already complained directly to your financial firm though its internal dispute resolution (IDR) process, then you need to complain to us within two years of getting an IDR response from your financial firm.
If you are not sure whether your complaint is valid, call us and we will talk through the specifics with you.
Other places to get help
- Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO)
- Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO)
- Energy and Water Ombudsman New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania energy, Tasmania water, Victoria, Western Australia
- Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia (COSBOA)
- ASIC's MoneySmart: financial guidance and tips.
- National Debt Helpline: financial counsellors provide information, support and advocacy to people in financial difficulty. Their service are free, independent and confidential.
- Community Legal Centres: community legal centres are independent, not-for-profit community organisations that provide legal and related services to the public, focusing on the disadvantaged and people with special needs.
- Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC): for inquiries and complaints relating to consumer protection matters in securities, futures, life insurance, general insurance, deposit-taking activities and the supervision of superannuation funds.
- Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC): promotes competition and fair trading and regulates national infrastructure to make markets work for everyone.