Has your small business been impacted by financial misconduct during the past 11 years?

If so, you should file a complaint with the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA), according to Australia’s small business ombudsman, Kate Carnell.

From 1 July, eligible small businesses will have a one-year window to notify AFCA about complaints dating back to 1 January 2008.

AFCA will refer the complaint back to the financial firm to resolve and, if it’s not satisfactorily resolved, AFCA will begin investigating from 1 October 2019.

Small businesses could be awarded up to $1 million compensation for a successful claim.

A small business is eligible to apply if:

  • It has less than 100 employees

  • The complaint relates to loans under $5 million

  • The submission is about a financial entity that is a member of AFCA

  • The small business has not already had their case heard by the financial ombudsman or a court

Before filing a complaint, small businesses are encouraged to:

  • Identify the financial firm about which they’re complaining

  • Identify the main issues as part of the complaint

  • Identify the losses incurred and what outcome is sought

  • Collect any relevant documents that support the complaint

“This is a positive step forward for small businesses who have fallen victim to financial misconduct, as AFCA previously only took complaints going back six years,” Ms Carnell said.

“It’s a very simple process that involves clicking the yellow ‘Make a complaint’ button on the AFCA website.”

However, Ms Carnell said it was unfortunate that AFCA had a $5 million limit, as there are cases where the small business loan is above this amount.

“These businesses don’t have the resources to take financial misconduct to court and they deserve justice too,” she said.