Thousands of consumers of financial products continue to be denied access to the Financial Services Ombudsman (FSO) because of a restriction in the legislation which prohibits the FSO from dealing with complaints concerning financial products sold more than six years ago, according to Fianna Fáil Finance Spokesperson Michael McGrath.

Deputy McGrath stated, “It is vital that legislation is introduced in the autumn Dáil session to address the six year rule which is denying tens of thousands of consumers the right to take a complaint to the FSO. We already know that about 1,000 consumer complaints – 12% of the total received by the FSO every year – fall outside of the six year rule and cannot be handled by the office. On top of this, we know that many consumers with legitimate grievances that fall outside the six year rule will simply not even refer it to the FSO. We can safely conclude that there are tens of thousands of consumers in the country who believe they have been sold defective financial products but are denied access to the statutory ombudsman established to deal with such complaints.

“Consumers who continue to be denied access to the FSO include those who were mis-sold payment protection insurance policies, people who were misled about whole of life assurance policies, people who were wrongly sold certain investment products and endowment mortgages. With each passing week, I am contacted by consumers who are unable to secure redress because of this six year rule. They are being stonewalled by the financial service provider because they know the consumer is cornered and the statutory FSO is prevented from dealing with their case.

“In 2013, Fianna Fáil published a Bill to deal with this issue. The Bill proposes that, from the time a person becomes aware of a problem with the financial product, they would have three years to lodge a complaint with the FSO. We are calling on the government to make the necessary change in the legislation to deal with this injustice currently being experienced by thousands of consumers of financial products. Fianna Fáil will be pressing the government on this issue when the Dáil returns.”