By Robert Laing for Business Day
The number of complaints from banking customers grew by an “unprecedented” 35% to 7 056 formal cases opened by the industry’s ombudsman in 2017, from the prior year.
Cases involving internet banking fraud overtook ATM complaints, banking ombudsman Reana Steyn said in the office’s annual report released on Wednesday.
Steyn said 22% of all banking disputes related to online banking, and “phishing” — a fraud scheme whereby consumers are duped into disclosing their login and password details via e-mails purporting to come from the bank — accounted for 77% of these.
“The category that previously topped the list, ATM complaints, were second highest at 18%, down 10% from the previous year, which is good news,” Steyn said.
The Ombudsman for Banking Services (OBS) is a voluntary dispute resolution service funded by the industry to offer consumers a way to escalate complaints without employing lawyers.
“It is unfortunate that consumers who are unsuccessful with their complaints levy the criticism of bias against the ombuds office. Our office works very hard to uphold high standards in adjudication and in applying the law to the fact of the case,” she said.
“The office found in favour of complainants in 27% of the cases, indicating that most matters capable of early resolution were resolved at the bank. While the number may appear low, it is in line with international experience at other ombuds offices.” People unhappy with their bank are encouraged to take their dispute to the OBS if their complaint has not been handled within 20 working days.