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File photo of Financial Services Ombudsman William Prasifka.

Complaints to Financial Services Ombudsman up 12% last year

Figure show that 40 per cent of all banking complaints related to mortgages.

THERE WERE 8,135 complaints made by consumers to the Financial Services Ombudsman (FSO) in 2012 – the highest figures since it was established – new figures have shown. The FSO’s Bi-Annual Review revealed a 12 per cent increase in complaints from consumers last year.

Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) complaints, representing 32 per cent of all insurance complaints in 2012, have risen significantly by 216 per cent on 2011 figures.

There was also an increase of 15 per cent in banking complaints with almost 40 per cent concerning mortgages. Banking complaints about customer care and maladministration doubled during 2012.

Investment complaints continue to fall, reflecting the downward trend in such complaints over the last number of years.

In the last 6 months, there was a 50 per cent rise in the number of complaints settled by financial institutions before full investigation, in comparison to January to June 2012. In total, compensation of approximately €1,735,000 was awarded last year.

Commenting on the review, Ombudsman William Prasifka said the figures were of “great concern” and that the increase in complaints is likely to continue.

“The complaints trends are also clear; much more needs to be done by financial institutions to engage with Consumers before complaints arise,” he said.

He said that while some institutions have improved their complaint handling record, others have remained static or deteriorated with many referring matters to the FSO without a genuine effort to resolve issues earlier.

Prasifka also said cases regarding mortgage accounts in particular “highlight the difficulties and financial hardship facing mortgage account holders”.

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