Cases of interactions with citizens by unknown persons on behalf of the Financial Ombudsman revealed

The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) has revealed cases of interaction with citizens by unknown persons on behalf of the Financial Ombudsman, who contact them by phone and invite to a meeting to solve a problem with a financial institution, said Olga Kraynova, head of the Ombudsman for financial services consumers support Service (OFSC).

«The call-centre of the Financial Ombudsman Service receives calls from citizens, so far residents of Moscow and the Moscow region, who claim that they have been contacted by persons presenting themselves as the FOS staff and inviting them to a face-to-face meeting. It is noteworthy that none of the callers to the call-centre had ever appealed to the Financial Ombudsman Service, so the call from unknown persons caused them concern,» Olga Kraynova remarks.

The first such calls from citizens were received by the OFSC in December 2020, and in January this year, the number of citizens reporting unknown callers to the Service increased.

Unknown persons invite people to come to a meeting to settle a dispute with a financial institution or to receive money.

According to Olga Kraynova, these may be the actions of unscrupulous individuals whose purpose remains unknown. «However, the callers invited citizens allegedly to the offices of the Financial Ombudsman Service near metro stations. It cannot be ruled out that residents of other regions may receive such calls and invitations, including in the regions where we have branches: St. Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Saratov,» continues the Head of the OFSC.

She points out that this year in January unknown persons began to call consumers with questions concerning the work of credit institutions. Since 2021 the Financial Ombudsman Service has started to deal with disputes concerning credit institutions, credit consumer cooperatives, pawnshops and NPFs.

It should be taken into account that the Financial Ombudsman Service only interacts with consumers of financial services if the consumer has submitted an appeal to the FOS. As a general rule, interaction is carried out through the channel chosen by the consumer: through the consumer’s personal account on the FOS official website or by postal mail.

When a complaint submitted by a consumer is being considered, he or she may also be contacted (including by phone) by an expert organization engaged by the Financial Ombudsman Service to conduct an expert review. The list of expert organizations engaged by the FOS is available on the FOS official website in  the Expert Organizations section. A consumer of financial services shall be notified about the appointment of an expertise in the Consumer’s Personal Office.

«Therefore, if you have not contacted the Financial Ombudsman Service, but unknown persons call you and introduce themselves as the FOS staff or Assistant Financial Ombudsmen, you are advised to have no conversation with them, let alone provide any personal information or meet them,» says Olga Kraynova.

«I would like to pay particular attention to the fact that acceptance and consideration of appeals by the Financial Ombudsman Service is completely free of charge for the consumer. None of the stages of complaint consideration, including the stage of expert examination initiated by the FOS, involves any form of payment by the consumer,» emphasizes Olga Kraynova.