On 27 July 2022, the Financial Ombudsman service (FOS) announced that it has published two new webpages on the subject of complaints that involve gambling-related harm. One page is directed at consumers and the other is directed at businesses.
Key points on the page directed at businesses include that:
- The FOS has been contacted by people when gambling-related harm has impacted them and their financial situation, and they think that a financial business could have done more to help or step in e.g. where an individual has been given a loan or credit when, according to the individual, it should have been obvious to the financial business that this was unaffordable to them due to their gambling habit.
- As with any complaint, when handling a gambling-related complaint, the FOS expects businesses to work with their customer to get to the bottom of what happened, investigate fairly when anything went wrong, and where appropriate, take steps to put things right. When handling a complaint, if the business does not reply within the time limits for responding to a complaint, or the customer disagrees with the businesses response, the customer can bring their complaint to the FOS.
- When looking at a complaint, the FOS will consider whether the business did everything they were required to do, and if not, whether the customer lost out as a result. In doing so, it will take into account what it considers to be “good industry practice” at the time, as well as the relevant law, regulation, rules and guidance.
- The FOS notes that the Financial Conduct Authority expects financial businesses to take particular care to ensure vulnerable customers are treated fairly. It will therefore consider whether a business was aware, or ought to have been aware, that their customer was vulnerable, and what support was offered or put in place.
- The FOS may ask businesses to put things right by making changes to a product or account, paying compensation for financial loss, or making changes to a credit file. The business may also be asked to compensate the customer for any distress and inconvenience they experienced as a result of the problem or mistake.
The webpage for businesses sets out a number of case studies which may be a useful reference-point for firms impacted by the issues raised in this new guidance.