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The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS)

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  • The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS)

    The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS)

    Financial Ombudsman Key Facts
    • It’s their job to sort out individual complaints that consumers and financial businesses haven't been able to resolve themselves.
    • They were set up by parliament to do this – as independent experts – and the service is free to consumers.
    • They can look at complaints about a wide range of financial matters – from insurance and mortgages to investments and credit. Each year they deal with almost a million enquiries and settle over 150,000 disputes.
    • They’re completely independent and impartial. This means that when they decide a complaint, they look carefully at both sides of the story and weigh up all the facts.
    • If they decide a business has treated the consumer fairly, they'll explain why. But if they decide the business has acted wrongly – and the consumer has lost out as a result – they can order it to put things right.
    • Depending how complicated a case is, they can sort out some complaints within just a few months – but some can take over a year.
    • Consumers don’t have to accept any decision made. They are always free to go to court instead. But if they do accept an ombudsman's decision, it is binding both on them and on the business.
    • They don't write the rules for businesses – or fine them if rules are broken. That is the job of the regulator.

    The FOS can look at complaints about most financial problems involving:
    • banking
    • insurance
    • mortgages
    • credit cards and store cards
    • loans and credit
    • pensions
    • savings and investments
    • hire purchase and pawnbroking
    • money transfer
    • financial advice
    • stocks, shares, unit trusts and bonds.

    But there are some complaints they cannot deal with. And rules and restrictions may apply – for example, on the time limits for bringing a complaint (so it is very important that you complain as soon as possible). The rules can be complex. But they'll always give you the chance to query anything you don't understand or agree with.

    Click here to see the FOS Frequently Asked Questions
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