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AFCA responds to 'extraordinary times'

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The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) has adjusted its complaint resolution processes, saying it will tailor support and may allow firms more time to respond as they battle the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The changes recognise companies may be instigating alternate staffing arrangements and some consumers may not be in a position to quickly act on requests for information.

“In these extraordinary times as the response to COVID-19 constantly evolves, we want to keep you updated on changes we are making,” AFCA told members in a statement.

The authority says it will take into account the current circumstances and context in which lenders and other financial firms are operating, and will work closely with affected consumers and financial firms to provide tailored support in the handling of a complaint.

“This may include additional time to respond to complaints and provide submissions and whether your teams face any challenges attending conciliations,” AFCA says.

Some 50% of AFCA’s workforce worked from home on Wednesday and Thursday to load-test phone and IT systems in preparation for a larger work-from-home model in coming weeks.

“We request your patience and support in these times,” the authority said. “We are working through the implications developing in this new landscape and rapidly changing environment.”