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Om-buds-what? How the Financial Ombudsman Service could help you

Ombudsmen may have a bit of a strange name, but what they do is simpler than they sound. We spoke to one of the largest Ombudsman services in the UK to hear about why you should make sure you know how they can help you.  

An Ombudsman is a free service which helps you resolve any disputes you may be having with a company. Using their services is a way of trying to resolve a complaint without going to court. There are different ombudsmen services for different areas of complaint.

We spoke to Lena Nunkoo at the Financial Ombudsman Service, which helps resolve complaints with companies that offer financial services, for more about what they do, and a real life example of the difference they can make.  

What is the Financial Ombudsman Service?

There’s been a lot of press coverage lately about ‘ombudsman’ schemes set up to help people and businesses sort out their problems about everything from shops to service.

But, taking a step back from the headlines what does ombudsman actually mean? What is an ombudsman and what does it mean when it says it’ll “sort out your problems?”

“Ombudsman” is a bit of a funny word - it’s Swedish, as our friendly Viking Hakon explained in his debut video.


But it isn’t one that people often come across in their everyday lives. Because our name is unfamiliar it can look formal and be difficult to say, conjuring up images of judges wearing wigs, legal arguments and scary courts, but it’s the opposite and really useful to know.

How can the Financial Ombudsman Service help you?

At the financial ombudsman, we can help with all kinds of money matters – from insurance and mortgages to savings and payday loans.

Rather than explaining what we do, let’s go through an example to show what we do.

“In one case that we sorted out, we helped someone who was being harassed by a debt collector. He’d told them several times that he couldn’t afford the repayments they were asking for – but they refused to listen. The collectors were calling up to 12 times a day.

We looked at what had gone on and it was obvious that the business had ignored the fact the repayments were unaffordable. We said that was unfair, and told it to work out affordable repayments and stop the harassing phone calls.” 

Being able to offer this practical help to sort out a problem is something that all ombudsman have in common.

We’re also all completely free for consumers to bring a problem to. There is an ombudsman for many other things such as furniture, health services, legal services, energy companies and phone companies, and many other things.

So, if there is a problem that you’re trying to work out, but find you’re hitting a brick wall, we can help.

Sometimes you might not even be able to put your finger on what the issue actually is, but all an ombudsman needs is to hear the story in your own words and we’ll unravel what’s happened. And if you’re not sure which one you need, give us a call and we’ll point you in the right direction.

Our contact page tells you how to get in touch.

Have you ever complained about a financial service? Did you know who to go to and how they could help?

This guest post is from Lena Nunkoo and doesn’t necessarily reflect the views of MoneyHelper. You can find out more about the Financial Ombudsman Service and what they do on their website.

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  • Rachel Steel / 19 May 2018

    I've been with HSBC for nearly 15 years in the past they have been taking informal overdraft off me at the time I was a single parent living on a low budget and every month I was getting charged for going overdrawn even though I had overdraft my bank always let me go under overdrawn so every month I would getting more and more in debt the charges seemed to be ridiculous I recently two years ago or maybe a year and half went to my bank and they thought I was still working as now I am on ESA they told me that it wasn't their fault and I couldn't claim anything they used to take something like £200 a month of me I tried pay my bills but half of the time I got myself in debt with that due to the charges from my bank please can you help me thank you

  • Babatunde Idowu / 9 March 2018

    I have acct with. Barclays Bank Doncaster, and l open monthly direct debit with my car insurance (18th of every month that £64 to be paid.) Last month February 2018 my bank did not pay for my car insurance, because of insufficient money in my bank account.. but to my surprise despite my bank not able to pay, l was charge £8 for not have sufficient funds in my account. Why should l pay bank charges of £8 even when the money was not paid, it was sent back to my car insurance unpaid ltry to speak with one of the bank staff, she told me is regulation, it unfair,

  • William harris / 7 March 2018

    , Good day' my name is william harris, i am very unhappy, because i took out a loan by find bond bank for the amount of R1300, now i must pay back R497pm for six months,that means i must pay back R2857, they charge R1557 intrest, thats to much 'm a pensenior, they use a woman to look for custommers, and althoug you have a loan by other places, they stil give you a loan, all our penseniors&disability, struggle&hardup, i took out a loan by easzy pay, they only charge R350 intrest on a R1650, that we can live with, but to pay find bond R1557 intrest on a R1300 loan, is to much, something must b done to that bank, they let us stuggle

  • Angela Tierney / 21 September 2017

    Can I claim bank charges back myself as these claims company's charges are disgusting at 39% that would near enough have of your claims .

  • Kevin Revell / 5 June 2016

    Can i reclaim bank charges from santander as i believe i am paying to much per month

  • jai prakash ratan / 18 May 2016

    cai speak to someone from the financial office to see quick advice on procedure and infomtion you may need to pursue cliam?