Your rights as a consumer are protected by law. Find out what to expect from your providers, and where you can go if something goes wrong.First published: 20/03/2023 Last updated: 31/07/2023 See all updates
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At the FCA, we work to make sure that financial firms treat you fairly and deliver products and services that meet your needs.
In the UK, nearly all financial service providers must be authorised or registered by us.
From banks and building societies, to companies that offer mortgages, credit cards, funeral plans, loans, savings, pensions and investments.
These authorised companies have to meet our standards and follow our rules.
From 31 July 2023, all products and services on sale must meet our Consumer Duty rules. The Duty sets a higher standard of consumer protection in financial services.
This means you should expect:
- the support you need, when you need it
- communications you understand
- products and services that meet your needs and offer fair value
For older products that aren’t on sale anymore, the Duty rules will apply from 31 July 2024.
You can check our Financial Services Register to make sure a firm is authorised and has permission for the service it’s offering you.
You’ll also be able to find:
- information on how you’re protected
- contact details for authorised firms
Protection if something goes wrong
If you use an authorised firm, you’re much more likely to be protected if something goes wrong.
If you’re unhappy with a financial product or service, you have the right to complain. In the first instance, you should ask your provider to put things right. But if you’re unhappy with their response, you can make a complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
For example, you may want to complain if:
- you're sold a product that doesn’t meet your needs
- you need support but can’t contact the firm
- you're charged for an extra service, but you don’t know what it is
- you get information from a firm that you can’t understand, such as a letter, an insurance policy document, or information on the firm's website
But if you’re not sure how you’re protected, make sure you ask your provider using the contact details on the FS Register.
Equality and diversity
It’s illegal for a financial service provider to discriminate against you. For example, to treat you differently because of your race, sex, disability or sexuality.
If you think you’ve been treated unfairly and want advice, you can contact the Equality Advisory and Support Service helpline.
If you’re disabled, you may be entitled to reasonable adjustments when dealing with providers, to help you use their products or services.
For example, a provider might make changes to a bank branch to help you access it. Or they may communicate with you in a format like British Sign Language or braille.
People in vulnerable circumstances
Some people are particularly vulnerable when dealing with financial services. This could be because of:
- health problems
- big life events (such as a bereavement or relationship breakdown)
- low knowledge of financial services
- low income
These individuals may have different needs, but providers should make sure that they get outcomes as good as those experienced by other consumers.
If you feel that a provider hasn’t met this standard, you have the right to complain.
Reporting bad practice
If you come across a financial scam, a misleading financial advert or a financial contract that seems unfair, you can report it to us.
At the FCA, we focus on scams that relate to financial services, but help is out there for other types of scams as well.
ActionFraud is the national reporting centre for people who’ve been scammed, defrauded or been victims of cyber crime.
Misleading financial adverts
All financial adverts and promotions must be fair, clear and not misleading. The Consumer Duty strengthens these standards by saying that you should receive communications you understand.
If you see an advert that you think is misleading, you should report it to us.
Unfair or unclear contract terms
As with promotions, financial firms must always provide contracts that are clear and fair. They can’t enforce terms on you that aren’t.
Find out how to spot and report an unfair contract term to us.
Free and confidential help with money
Everyone can get free, confidential help with money.
MoneyHelper is a government-backed service that gives guidance on a range of money matters. The team can also help you access free advice on money worries as well as pensions.