CANBERRA, AAP – Tens of thousands of Australians have secured more than $240 million in compensation from financial institutions in the past year after seeking help with a complaint.

The Australian Financial Complaints Authority received more than 70,000 complaints in the past 12 months from Australians in dispute with banks, insurers, super funds, investment firms and financial advisers.

Separately, investigations by the authority into a range of systemic issues which resulted in remediation payments to consumers totalled nearly $32 million.

However, complaints involving financial difficulty were down 40 per cent from the previous year.

“That’s a great outcome and reflects the positive response from government and industry to the impact of COVID,” the authority’s chief ombudsman David Locke said.

“However, it’s too early to say we’re out of the woods yet. It may be some months before we know the full impact of the end of government emergency support and assistance from financial firms such as deferred loan repayments. And, of course, we are still living with COVID-19.

The authority was set up in 2018.

Since then, it has helped secure more than $610 million in compensation and over $220 million in remediation payments.

The most complained about product in the 2020/21 financial year was credit cards, accounting for 14 per cent of all complaints, followed by home loans, (nine per cent) and personal transaction accounts (eight per cent).

Travel insurance complaints were down 22 per cent, as Australians stayed at home, and superannuation complaints declined 31 per cent, after a jump the prior year when the government allowed the early release of super at the start of the pandemic.

However, complaints related to personal transaction accounts rose 48 per cent, of which 29 per cent were about unauthorised transactions.

Complaints about electronic banking also increased 76 per cent, with unauthorised transactions accounting for 28 per cent and mistaken internet payments accounting for a further 19 per cent.

“There’s no single reason for these increases but people transacting online more during COVID will have contributed,” Mr Locke said.

“Scams, which have accelerated during the pandemic, are also leading to growing complaints about transactions.”