New Zealand currency.

Banking Ombudsman turns 25

When Mr G, 81, was approached by a young woman who had seen him struggling with his groceries, he had no idea that “kindness” would see his bank accounts cleared out.

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She offered to help him further with his shopping. He handed over his eftpos card. Over a short time, she not only cleared that account of $4000 but also his savings of $23,500.

The matter ended up with the Banking Ombudsman, who ruled he could not get his $4000 back, but the bank should repay him half his savings.

This month marks 25 years since the Banking Ombudsman Scheme (BOS) was set up. It was a pioneering step for consumer protection. Consumer NZ was there at the start, with then-CEO David Russell an original scheme member. It hasn’t all been plain sailing – banks took a while to get used to being held to account.

But Banking Ombudsman Nicola Sladden says today banks recognise an independent disputes resolution service builds trust and confidence in the sector.

Consumer NZ CEO Sue Chetwin is a BOS board member.