Financial Hardship: Guide to the FOS

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A Guide to Taking Your Case for Financial Hardship and Bank Charges to the FOS:

With thanks to Yourbank.

Over the last week (June 2009) I have had a discussion with the FOS with a view to working on getting claims through the system in as timely a fashion as possible. These are guidelines only and please do not be put off by it. The FOS will look at all claims but the more information you give them and the reasons why you disagree with the banks' decision and how much you feel that you would be happy to settle with the easier the case will be. Remember no payout is a full and final one so anything not offered will be dealt with on the conclusion of the OFT test case issues.

This is a rough estimate of the timescales involved:

Up to 8 weeks: discussion with the bank

Complaint received by the FOS with documentation by post:

It will sit in a queue for roughly 2 weeks before it actually gets into an investigation queue.

4-6 weeks later the paper file goes to the Admin Department which then allocates and adjudicator and this then leads to a decision within 1-2 weeks.

This timescale is a clean one, ie where all paperwork is in order and no further information is required.

Discussion on this matter then went onto what would be good paperwork for the FOS.

There are two areas which it can go to:

1) 8 weeks without an adequate response

2) A final response(ideally) which could be within that 8 week period.

Before going to the ombudsman it is important to have in mind the outcome that you want to receive, is it that you want the bank to apologise only or do you want the bank to suspend charges for a period of time, or maybe you want an increase in the amount offered or you want an offer. It is something that is reasonable and not a simple, give me 100% or I decline everything, cos that is not how financial hardship works.

The paperwork:

  • Income and expenditure form(plus arrears notices on priority debts),

Exanple of I&E form that can be used: Money Advice Trust

  • List of charges you are claiming(date....description....charge amount)
  • Bank letters and responses(First letter for repayment of charges and 2nd letter plus all your letters and responses.
  • Final response letter would be ideal if you have one

With the Final Response, you need to provide a point by point reason why you disagree with the decision and furthermore the outcome you would feel is reasonable and acceptable.

  • Effect on having to service the priority debt arrears.

The reason many financial hardship cases are delayed within the FOS is that they are having to go back to the claimant for further information.

The above information is not to discourage claimants who can simply say that the charges are unfair however, to prevent delays, having the information above is necessary so that the claim through the FOS goes as smoothly as possible. The FOS will accept all cases even if they are without the prerequisites set out above but it may mean you waiting a lot longer for a response if you do not have the paperwork.