The Australian Financial Complaints Authority has launched a support hotline to ensure priority service for people impacted by the Australian bushfires.
AFCA’s Bushfire Support Line (1800 337 444) is part of its disaster response process, which identifies and expedites complaints about financial products and services from the impacted communities, according to a statement.
The move follows the complaints body establishing an online bushfire support hub dedicated to families and small businesses earlier this month.
AFCA chief operating officer Justin Untersteiner said it was ready and willing to assist to ensure financial complaints are resolved quickly.
“AFCA is an ombudsman service that provides free, fair and independent help with financial disputes,” Mr Untersteiner said.
“If you’re affected by the bushfires, and you find yourself in a dispute with your insurer or financial provider about a claim or request for assistance, AFCA can help resolve it.
“We have special processes that identify and fast-track complaints from people, primary producers and small businesses in impacted communities, so we can assist you to resolve complaints as quickly as possible.”
AFCA also encouraged that people think twice before signing contracts with claims management companies.
“Our service is completely free to use and legally binding on financial firms,” Mr Untersteiner said.
“AFCA has heard reports of claims management companies charging people to manage disputes with financial firms.
“While not illegal, AFCA is concerned that people are being charged excessive costs and/or a percentage of the sum recovered, when in reality the service provided is of no real benefit to the person.
“AFCA warns against signing binding contracts with claims management companies unless people clearly understand the likely cost implications. In most cases it is not necessary or of any real value.”
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