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Time’s up: AFCA set to end responses extension

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The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) has warned that a temporary time extension for handling complaints during the COVID-19 pandemic is set to come to an end.

Under changes due to expire at the end of this month, companies have had an extra nine days to respond to complaints that have already been through an internal dispute resolution process.

“AFCA has been working closely with key stakeholders since April to monitor and review the response timeframe change and it is appropriate that the extension ceases as intended at the six-month point,” Chief Ombudsman and CEO David Locke said.

“We are appreciative of the way our members have dealt proactively with the challenges of COVID-19 and the resolution of complaints during this extended response timeframe.”

AFCA says it will continue to consider extensions where they are needed on a case-by-case situation as part of its normal process.

“We understand that the damaging impacts of COVID-19 continue to be felt by some financial firms, as well as consumers and small businesses, and our approach is flexible and agile to meet these individual needs,” Mr Locke said.

The timeframe will revert to 21 days from next month, with initial responses to complaints that have reached the case management stage also required within requested seven, 14 or 21-day timeframes as appropriate.