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When everyone has a home

028 9024 5640: Housing & Debt Helpline for Northern Ireland

Can the Financial Ombudsman Service help your clients?

The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) was established by Parliament to help consumers who have a complaint about a financial service. The Ombudsman can help consumers with complaints about a range of issues:

  • banking
  • insurance
  • mortgages
  • credit cards and store cards
  • loans, including payday loans 
  • credit and debt collection
  • pensions
  • savings and investments
  • hire purchase and pawnbroking
  • money transfers
  • financial advice
  • stocks, shares, unit trusts and bonds.

However, the FOS can only step in to help if the consumer has firstly exhausted the complaints procedure of the business concerned. If the consumer is not happy with the outcome of the business’ complaints procedure they can refer the matter to the FOS. This must be done within 6 months of the final response from the business.

Once a complaint is referred to them, the FOS will gather details of the complaint and speak to both sides. They will weigh up the facts and then make a decision. If they agree with the outcome of the business’ complaints procedure, they will explain why. But if they disagree with the decision then they can instruct the business to put things right.  In this case the business will be instructed to put the consumer in the position they would have been in had they acted as they should, so that the consumer is not at a detriment.

Housing Rights Service has made a number of referrals on behalf of clients to the FOS. Some of the issues which we have referred are:

  • Clients who believe they have been mis-sold Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) and non-payment of PPI when a client has had to make a claim on it
  • Clients who believe they have had unfair charges added to their accounts
  • Clients who believe that they have been mis-sold a mortgage e.g. older clients being sold long term mortgages which will not expire until after they after reached retirement age, by which time their prospect of repaying the mortgage is reduced.

If you would like to find out more about the work of the FOS and how they can help your clients, then come along to our FREE briefing session which is being delivered by FOS staff on 21st August. To book your FREE place contact geraldine@housingrights.org.uk

This article was written on 22 July 2014. It should not be relied on as a statement of the current law or policy position. For help with housing issues please contact our helpline on 028 9024 5640 or use our online chat service at www.housingadviceNI.org.