Happy birthday to the New Zealand Banking Ombudsman Scheme that today celebrates 25 years of handling consumer banking disputes.

The Scheme’s quarter-century celebration also marks a good time for consumers to reflect on their knowledge of the available financial dispute resolution schemes.

When the Banking Ombudsman was set up in 1992, banking was done at branches, payments were mostly by cash or cheque, and EFTPOS machines were rare.

Looking back on the last 25 years, the sector has come a long way. Very few people visit a branch, most payments are cashless, and we use our phones to do the lot – bank, pay, trade and budget.

In this new environment, would you know what to do if a dispute occurred between you and your bank if you’d never physically spoken to someone? Being aware of your consumer rights when dealing with financial service providers is important in today’s digitalised economy.

All financial service providers who deal with retail clients are required to belong to one of the four approved dispute resolution schemes. These schemes deal with consumer complaints or disputes related to banking, finance, or insurance, and are free to consumers:

The Consumer Protection website offers more information, tips, and contact information to help consumers navigate the various schemes and find the right person to talk to.

You can find out which scheme your financial service provider belongs to at www.companies.govt.nz/fsp(external link)