Page last updated: 27 July 2022

Disputes and consumer protection

The Banking Ombudsman investigates and resolves disputes between customers and their banks.

They also deal with complaints about a range of non-bank financial service providers. The Reserve Bank of New Zealand is the prudential supervisor of banks and insurance companies.

Consumer Protection

We cannot help you directly. All businesses who offer financial services must belong to an independent dispute resolution scheme.

Your provider must provide the name of their dispute resolution scheme in their disclosure documents, or you can search for it on the Financial Service Providers Register.

If you have a dispute with your financial service provider there are several ways you can address the problem:

  1. Raise the matter with the company or individual directly.
  2. Make a complaint to the company or individual using their complaint process – this should be described on their website or in documents they sent to you.
  3. Contact the dispute resolution scheme they are a member of to help resolve your problem. This service is free. They can give advice on how to make an effective complaint and may be able to assist you. However, ensure you should take your complaint to the business or individual as well.

To register on the FSPR, all individuals or businesses that provide a financial service to retail clients in New Zealand must belong to a dispute resolution scheme.

There are four approved dispute resolution schemes:

  1. Banking Ombudsman - investigates and resolves disputes between customers and their banks. The Banking Ombudsman also deals with complaints about a range of non-bank financial service providers.
  2. Insurance & Financial Services Ombudsman - considers complaints against insurance and savings organisations and some other financial service providers that are members of its scheme.
  3. Financial Services Complaints Limited - considers complaints against financial service providers that are members of its scheme.
  4. Financial Dispute Resolution Service - (operated by FairWay Resolution) considers complaints against financial service providers that are members of its scheme.

Consumer Protection and the Commerce Commission have information about your rights when you use credit cards, store cards, buy goods or services on credit or get cash loans.

If you're worried about a loan you've got with a finance company, please contact the Commerce Commission.

We also suggest you seek legal advice. This is free from any Citizen Advice Bureau or Community Law Centre. Some help is available from budget services organisations such as Family Budgeting.

We cannot help you to get your money back.

Whether you can get any money back depends on the type of investment you have and the financial status of the company or person you have invested in.

We suggest you seek legal advice from a lawyer to discuss your circumstances and work out your options.

If you have contacted their dispute resolution scheme provider and they are unable to help you, you can file a complaint with us; but we generally will not be able to assist you directly.

 

If you paid money to someone registered on the FSPR and now can't access funds

Just because someone is registered on the FSPR does not mean they are licensed or regulated and you may not be able to get your money back.

If you have tried contacting them and used their dispute resolution scheme without success, you can make a complaint to us. We will not be able to help you get your money back if the company or individual is based overseas, however, we can provide you with publicly available information about them, such as where they are registered and who their directors are from the Companies Office.

If the business is located in New Zealand, we may have more ability to help, however, we cannot assist individual investors.

See our scams page to learn some of the hallmarks of scams.

You can also check:

  • Consumer Protection’s Scamwatch for scams known to be circulating in New Zealand. You can report a scam on their website too
  • Department of Internal Affairs who list a range of scams by format, eg, email, text message, phone, fax and postal scams. You can report scams to them, including forwarding text message scams to the free shortcode 7726 (SPAM).

If the scam relates to an illegal investment offer or scheme you should also contact the FMA.

You can also report any online incidents such as; scams, frauds, computer security, privacy breaches or suspicious spam messages to NetSafe.

 

Businesses to avoid

We publish a list of businesses and individuals we recommend investors be wary of.

 

Stolen identity

You should contact the Police in the first instance.

We do not provide security or confirmations of legitimacy for any business or individual on the FSPR. We strongly suggest before investing any money that you:

See our Investor section for more information.

You can check whether or not a company is registered in New Zealand at the Companies Office. You can also find basic details about a company such as; names of directors, addresses, registered shareholders and financial statements there.

What is the Companies Office?

The Companies Office is the government agency responsible for administrating the register of companies in New Zealand. It administers a number of other business registers such as the Financial Service Providers Register (FSPR).

 

What is the FSPR?

The Financial Services Providers Register (FSPR) is an online register of the people, businesses, and organisations that offer financial services to persons in New Zealand.

By law, any business or person providing financial services to persons in New Zealand has to be registered and the company name or individual has to be listed on it if the Financial Service Providers (Registration and Dispute Resolution) Act 2008 applies to their business. Some examples include financial advice providers, finance companies, fund managers and foreign currency exchange dealers. Businesses or individuals are only able to be registered on the FSPR if they are actually providing financial services to persons in New Zealand.

Other information

Not necessarily. The numbers of businesses and individuals that we regulate have grown under the new laws but we don’t regulate everyone. See Who we regulate.

IMPORTANT: As part of the process, limited criminal checks are done on a business or individual who is applying to be added to the FSPR. No other checks or assessments are made. Being registered on the FSPR does not mean a business or individual is licensed or regulated by us or that they are based in New Zealand. If you use an unlicensed provider, it’s very unlikely you will recover your money if things go wrong, particularly if they are based overseas.  

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The FSPR can help you:

  • obtain a business address
  • see the types of financial services the registered company, or individual, provides to customers. Some examples include; money transfers, investment management or financial advice 
  • see any licences or an authorisation status that the company or individual may have
  • see what dispute resolution scheme they belong to.

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) registers banks, licenses insurers (insurance companies) and undertakes their prudential supervision – that means they monitor how stable and safe they are. You'll find further information on the RBNZ website.

Check the Reserve Bank of New Zealand website for a list of licensed insurance companies.