Vincent contacted us saying that a payday lender was stealing money from him. Vincent explained that someone had stolen his identity, borrowed money from a payday lender and the payday lender was debiting his bank account. Vincent tried to contact the payday lender but his emails were ignored and telephone calls unanswered.
Vincent said he had not borrowed any money from the payday lender and the payday lender was not authorised to debit his account.
We referred Vincent’s complaint to the payday lender’s internal complaints process. The payday lender replied that it had asked Vincent for confirmation that he had referred the matter to the police, but had not heard back from Vincent. After 40 working days Vincent’s complaint remained unresolved, so we started our investigation.
We asked the payday lender for its response to Vincent’s complaint. At about the same time Vincent told us that he had reported the identify theft to the police. We asked Vincent for a copy of the complaint acknowledgement form from the police. Vincent took a photograph of the form with his phone, and forwarded it on to us. We sent the email on to the payday lender who immediately refunded the $500 it had debited to Vincent’s bank account.
Vincent was delighted with the outcome and we closed our file.
Insights for participants
We should never have had to start an investigation into Vincent’s complaint. If Vincent had been able to contact the payday lender, he would not have asked us for help. Similarly, once the complaint was with the payday lender’s internal complaints process, the payday lender should have been able to get the police complaint acknowledgement form from Vincent, whom we found very easy to communicate with.
If a participant does not take these opportunities to resolve complaint, we will reluctantly begin an investigation. Our terms of reference allow us to begin an investigation:
- after 20 working days, if the participant makes no effort to communicate with their customer
- after 40 working days, if the complaint is still unresolved
- the customer does not accept a final proposed resolution
- the participant refers their customer to us.