Credit insurance has become the main reason for bank customers to appeal to the Financial Ombudsman
Credit institutions’ clients have been actively using a recent out-of-court procedure for settling disputes in the financial market, and since the beginning of the year 2,832 applications (data as of April 4) have been sent to the Financial Ombudsman Service regarding 88 banks, Financial Ombudsman Viktor Klimov said. More than half of the appeals concern five credit institutions.
«The statistics for the first three months is not yet very telling, but it shows that the institution of out-of-court dispute resolution in the sphere of credit institutions has started to work. Interaction with credit institutions is established. Some trends can already be traced and there is an understanding of what to work on in terms of interaction,» noted the Financial Ombudsman.
A significant part of the appeals from bank clients concerned consumer loans (2,222, or 78.5%). The most common dispute in this segment was consumers’ disagreement with the amount (deduction) of fees for additional services. As a rule, it is related to the purchase of insurance at the time of granting a loan and joining the collective insurance agreement by the client. «These are disputes about connection fees for insurance programmes, in other words, disputes about return of money which was withheld by the bank on account of this additional service. And the share of such appeals reaches 70-80 per cent in the total number of claims to the banks,» Viktor Klimov says.
Appeals to a Financial Ombudsman concerning consumer loans also relate to consumers’ disagreement with the amount of interest, the amount and procedure for making payments, disagreement with the amount of penalties, breach of time for repayment of funds.
In second place in the number of complaints are disputes about bank accounts and transfers (507, or 17.9%). Most often bank customers pointed to the unjustified withholding or debiting of funds. «Most of the problems here are related to the use of mobile apps. As we become more digital, the problem is getting broader and more multifaceted. Firstly, few consumers read the user agreement, and secondly, the terms of identification are only partly regulated by law today. And the important question for us is what is the appropriate and correct action for the consumer in terms of identification from the legal point of view,» Viktor Klimov explained.
The third place is occupied by disputes over deposits (99, 3.5%), where a common claim was the depositor’s disagreement with the amount of accrued interest.
Average size of claimants’ demands in disputes with banks was 115,224 rubles.
A total of 555 decisions were made by the Financial Ombudsman Service in the period in question based on the results of reviewing the appeals received.
Financial Ombudsman Viktor Klimov separately notes cases when financial ombudsmen make decisions to stop reviewing appeals due to banks’ failure to provide documents requested by the Financial Ombudsman. «If a financial institution fails to fulfil or improperly fulfils the obligations stipulated by the law «On the Ombudsman for the Rights of Consumers of Financial Services», the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) has the right to file a proposal to the Bank of Russia to apply measures stipulated by federal laws to this financial institution,» Viktor Klimov reminds.
During the reporting period, some appeals were not accepted by the FOS for consideration, including the reason for rejection was that the complainant had not filed a claim with the financial institution as required by law. The main reason for this is the lack of awareness of bank customers about the procedure for filing complaints. However, the law «On the Ombudsman for the Rights of Consumers of Financial Services» obliges financial institutions to inform the consumers.
«During this short period of work in the segment of credit institutions some positive trends were observed. In our practice there have already been cases when the bank voluntarily settled the dispute with the client after the consumer appealing to the Financial Ombudsman. As a rule, the dispute settlement takes place after the Financial Ombudsman has received a request to provide information and documents necessary for the case. This means that we are beginning to achieve the main goal for which the institution has been created – reducing the number of disputes,» Viktor Klimov added.
The new procedure for handling consumer disputes with banks, non-state pension funds, credit consumer cooperatives and pawnshops has been valid in Russia since 1 January 2021. Before filing a claim against the above financial institutions a consumer must apply to a Financial Ombudsman, who will handle consumer disputes for up to RUB 500,000 – free of charge and within 15 business days. Before applying to the Financial Ombudsman, the claimant must follow the claim procedure, i.e. first send a complaint to the financial institution against which the consumer has a claim, stating the nature of his or her claim. Only if the consumer does not agree with the response received from the financial institution, or if they do not receive it within the statutory deadline, does the consumer send an appeal to the Financial Ombudsman.