How can we help?

We may try to resolve your complaint quickly and informally by discussing it with you and your bank. If not, and we find that your bank has acted wrongly, we can make your bank pay compensation. This can be up to $350,000 for direct financial loss or damage, and up to $9,000 for inconvenience, stress or embarrassment. If we think your bank has treated you fairly, or you have not suffered any loss, damage or inconvenience, we will write and tell you so, explaining our reasons.

How do I make a complaint?

How long will our process take?

It depends on the complexity of your complaint and how quickly we can get all the necessary information. We resolve more than half of our complaints within three months of receiving them. Complex complaints can be quite time-consuming. You should be prepared to allow time for a thorough consideration of your complaint.  We will always keep you up to date with progress.

Is there a charge?

No. Our service is free.

Is my complaint too small?

No complaint is too small or insignificant.

How independent are you in making decisions?

We decide each complaint on its merits. We are independent of the banks, consumer organisations and the government.

Do I have to accept your decision?

No, it's entirely up to you whether you accept – or reject – our decision. You are always free to go to the courts, the Disputes Tribunal or any other complaint resolution scheme.

Does the Banking Ombudsman investigate all complaints personally?

No. One of our team is assigned to your case. Sometimes, the Banking Ombudsman will personally review a complaint and make a decision on it.

How do I make a complaint if I can’t speak English, I am disabled or I can’t follow the usual process for other reasons?

Call us, or ask someone else to call us, for information about what we can do to help. We can arrange translation and interpretation services, arrange to meet you (resources permitting) or otherwise adapt our processes to make sure your complaint is properly considered. See special assistance.

Do I need a lawyer?

No. We are a free and informal alternative to going to court. In most cases, you should not need any legal or other expert assistance. We consider the facts of your case, not how you present them. If you decide to employ someone to present your case (for example, a lawyer), you will almost certainly have to pay his or her costs yourself, even if we uphold your complaint.

Is there a time limit for making a complaint?

Yes. You have three months from the time your bank sends you a letter with its final decision. If you haven't contacted us within that time, we won't consider your complaint (unless something exceptional has happened). We may also not consider your complaint if you knew about the matter for more than 12 months before coming to us.

Can I complain if I no longer have crucial documents relevant to my complaint?

Yes. Banks must give us all the information we need to consider your complaint. This includes account statements, loan documents and notes written by staff. However, it might be difficult if those vital documents aren't from the bank (for example, it's correspondence with another person or organisation). 

Is my complaint confidential?

Yes. Only you and your bank will know about it. We will not seek information from anyone else without your consent. We are prohibited from disclosing any information that could identify you or your bank.

How is the Banking Ombudsman Scheme funded?

We charge members of the scheme a levy to meet our running costs.

What does the scheme's board do?

The board, as governing body, ensures the scheme operates independently of banks, consumers and the government. The board has two representatives of consumer interests, two bank representatives and an independent chair. You can see who is on our board here.

What legislation and codes do we look at when assessing a complaint?

Our assessments take into account:


How much money can I complain about? Is there a limit to how much money I can complain about?

We can consider complaints involving claims of direct financial loss under $350,000.

We categorise our cases as complaints, disputes and enquiries

  • a complaint is any expression of dissatisfaction about a bank which requires a response
  • a dispute is any case that has been considered by the bank, but there has been no resolution and the customer has requested we independently consider their complaint
  • an enquiry is any other contact, such as a general query about banking.

Quick Guide: Closing accounts

Read our Quick Guide on Closing accounts