Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS)

Overview

The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) was set up by parliament and is the UK’s official expert in sorting out problems with financial services, between a business and a customer. FOS has legal powers to put things right if you have a complaint about a business and you have been treated unfairly. They will also give you an unbiased answer about what has happened.

The types of problems FOS deal with include

  • Bank accounts
  • Credit, debit and store cards
  • Payment protection insurance (PPI)
  • Other insurance, like motor, travel and household
  • Loans, including payday loans
  • Other credit, like car finance
  • Mortgages
  • Repayment problems and debt collection
  • Money transfers and online payments
  • Financial advice, savings and investments
  • Pensions

The complaints process

If you are not happy with the way a business has treated you or handled a particular issue you may be considering making a complaint about them. Before contacting FOS for their intervention they advise you to give the business a chance to put things right first.

Stage 1

Make a detailed complaint, in writing, to the business. You can ask them for a copy of their complaints procedure or the details may be on correspondence or online. They must give you a ‘final response’ to your complaint within eight weeks at the most, depending on what your complaint is about. You will either receive a deadlock ‘final response letter or they may advise you that they need longer to look into the complaint you have made.

Stage 2

If you are not satisfied with the final response or the business has said they need more time to look into the complaint and you are unhappy about this, you can escalate the matter to FOS. FOS will do the following:

  • FOS will review all the information you have told them
  • FOS will then check that the complaint is something that they can deal with
  • FOS will contact the business and obtain their side of the story
  • FOS will then look into the complaint

Your complaint will be investigated by one of their case handlers, who will try to understand what has happened and if the business has done anything wrong.

Stage 3

FOS will contact you with an answer to their findings. Your case handler will inform you of their outcome based on what they believe is fair and reasonable.

If either you or the business you are complaining about disagrees with the decision made by FOS, either you or the business can ask for a final decision from an ombudsman.

How to contact FOS

Financial Ombudsman

Exchange Tower, Harbour Exchange, London, E14 9SR

T: 0800 023 4 567

(Calls to this number are now free on mobile phones and landlines)

T: 0300 123 9 123

(Calls to this number cost no more than calls to 01 and 02 numbers)

(18002) 020 7964 1000

(Calls using next generation text relay

These numbers may not be available from outside the UK – so please call us from abroad on:+44 20 7964 0500

Usual business opening hours:

Monday to Friday – 8am to 8pm

Saturday – 9am to 1pm

Their technical advice helpline is open Monday-Friday 9am-5pm