Before filing a complaint before the Ombudsman you must go through the following steps.
Check on the intermediary
You can only contact the ABF when your complaint is against a bank, a financial intermediary entered in the registers and lists kept by the Bank of Italy (financial intermediary, loan guarantee consortia, payment institutions and electronic money institutions), Poste Italiane SpA as regards its BancoPosta activity or a foreign intermediary operating in Italy.
If the intermediary does not fall within the abovementioned categories, the ABF may not examine the complaint.
To check whether the intermediary is subject to the Ombudsman's decisions, refer to:
- the register of banks pursuant to Article 13 of the Consolidated Law on Banking
- the register of financial intermediaries pursuant to Article 106 of the Consolidated Law on Banking (the 'Albo Unico')
- the register of the loan guarantee consortia pursuant to Article 112(1) of the Consolidated Law on Banking
- the register of payment institutions
- the register of electronic money institutions
Foreign-based banks and intermediaries that operate in Italy under the freedom to provide services are not required to adhere to the ABF, provided that they adhere or are subject to a foreign out-of-court settlement system which is a member of Fin-Net. In this case, the client may still contact the ABF which, in turn, will put them in touch with the equivalent ADR of the country in which the intermediary is based. The technical secretariats (see 'Contacts' Section) can inform you if the foreign intermediary adheres to an out-of-court settlement system which is a member of Fin-Net, and if it does, they can provide technical support for filing a complaint.
Check the transaction or service
The complaint must concern banking and financial transactions and services, including payment services (e.g. bank accounts, mortgage loans, personal loans, other loans also to purchase goods, credit and debit cards and reports to the Central Credit Register).
If the dispute between you and the intermediary does not concern banking and financial transactions and services (including payment services) but investment services or activities (e.g. securities trading or placement, investment advice and asset management), you can file a complaint with the Financial Disputes Arbitrator (Arbitro per le Controversie Finanziarie, ACF), established by Consob pursuant to Legislative Decree 130/2015 (implementing Directive 2013/11/EU), which has been active since 9 January 2017.
Check the time frame
The complaint must concern transactions, services and conduct that have occurred since 1 January 2009. The ABF cannot consider any complaints regarding transactions, services or conduct prior to that date.
Check the amounts requested
If you file a complaint with the ABF you can ask the intermediary for an amount equal to or less than € 100,000. The Ombudsman cannot hear complaints involving larger sums as this exceeds the jurisdiction of the ADR.
There is no threshold if the dispute only relates to verifying the existence of rights, obligations and powers (e.g. failure to provide transparency documentation, or failure to cancel a mortgage after the loan has been entirely repaid).
Check that your complaint meets the requirements
A complaint cannot be examined if the dispute has already been submitted to a judicial authority, an arbitrator or a conciliation body.
Recourse to the ABF is, however, possible if a conciliation proceeding fails or if it was activated by the intermediary and you have not adhered to it.
Check that a dispute has been lodged with the financial intermediary
Before submitting a complaint to the Ombudsman, you must try to solve the problem by submitting a written dispute to the financial intermediary.
The ABF may hear a complaint only if the intermediary has not replied within 30 days, or if you think that its response is unsatisfactory.
A complaint may not be filed if more than twelve months have passed since you made the initial dispute to the intermediary. However, you can submit a new dispute.