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How to complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS)

Tamires Criscio
Tamires Criscio
  | Edited by Tom Church
Updated 10th June 2021

Are you having problems with a UK financial company? If so, the Financial Ombudsman Service can help you. Latest Deals has created a guide to help you complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

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What is the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS)?

The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) is an official organisation created by the UK Government. This organisation settles disputes between UK financial companies and customers. 

How can the Financial Ombudsman Service help you? 

The best thing about the Financial Ombudsman Service is that it acts by the “treating customers fairly” rules. This means that they will always put the customer first. 

Even if the financial company was acting within the law, if the customer felt taken advantage of, the Financial Ombudsman Service will look to protect them. 

When the Financial Ombudsman Service receives complaints, they first look to find whether the financial company has broken the law and if they have, the decision is pretty straightforward. 

Then, they will communicate with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to see how the financial company has been conducting their activities and if there are any wrongdoings that have been flagged in the past. 

Finally, they will look into “the good industry practice”, which is defined by them. 

What sort of products/services can you complain about to the Financial Ombudsman Service?

You can complain about almost anything to the Financial Ombudsman Service, however, they mostly take complaints regarding financial companies.

 If you are not sure if they can take your complaint, just call them to ask. You can find their contact details further in the guide. 

Here are some of the products/services you can complain about: 

  • Bank charges, mainly regarding packaged bank accounts. 
  • Credit card charges.
  • Debt collection.
  • Investments.
  • Mortgages and loans. 
  • Payday loans.
  • Pensions. 
  • Savings. 
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How to complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service

Before complaining to the Financial Ombudsman Service, first, you need to contact the financial company you are not happy with and try to resolve the issue with them. Keep copies of all your messages including when and what you wrote. 

If you don’t get a response within 8 weeks or you got a response that you are not happy with and they can no longer assist you, then you can go to the Financial Ombudsman Service. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: Remember, you need to give at least 8 weeks to the financial company to get back to you before escalating your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

It’s very easy to use the Financial Ombudsman Service, also it’s free. 

How to contact the Financial Ombudsman Service

To use the Financial Ombudsman Service, you need to go to their website and fill out an online form, you can also call them on 0800 023 4567

Make sure you include all the pieces of information (messages between you and the financial company you are complaining about, for example) that can help you with your complaint.

When the Financial Ombudsman Service receives your complaint, they will check the other side of the story. They will get in touch with the company you are complaining about. They will also contact you if they need more information. 

Often, when the Financial Ombudsman Service gets involved, the companies agree with the complaint. They also usually give what the client asked in the first place. They do that to avoid a full investigation and further problems. 

Unfortunately, sometimes, the financial company you’re complaining about doesn't agree with the complaint. Then, the Financial Ombudsman Service will make a fair legally binding final decision. 

In this decision, the Financial Ombudsman Service will balance out what is the best course of action that protects the customer's rights. The customer probably won’t get everything they wanted but they may get something to help. 

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How long does it take to get a decision from the Financial Ombudsman Service? 

The final decision can take between 3 to 9 months.

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are a vulnerable customer, you can ask for a quicker decision, although, you will need to prove your circumstances, such as poor health or finances. 

How to keep track of your complaint with the Financial Ombudsman Service? 

To keep track of your complaint with the Financial Ombudsman Service, you need to use your reference number.

You will receive your reference number when they confirm your complaint was received. You can receive that by email or on the phone, depending on how you submit your complaint.

You can also send them emails to this address: complaint.info@financial-ombudsman.org.uk to receive updates about your complaint. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are just looking to receive updates regarding your complaint, send emails. It avoids the hassle of making phone calls and waiting in lines. Keep in mind that some complaints take months to process. So you will be waiting for a while. 

What to do if you're not happy with the Financial Ombudsman Service's decision? 

If you’re not happy with The Financial Ombudsman Service's decision, you need to let them know and they will keep working on your case. 

It can take several months to make another decision due to the fact that they will take a further look into your complaint. 

After this second investigation, you can’t appeal anymore and you will need to accept their decision or take it to court. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: It’s always better not to take a case to court, especially if the amount of money you are complaining about is not high. This is because it’s a lot of stress going to court and could end up costing you more money than you are fighting for.

If you want to learn how to take your case to the court, read here

FAQs

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