A growing number of Australians are struggling to repay home loans, credit cards and personal loans, the Financial Ombudsman Service annual review has found.
The ombudsman's report said the not-for-profit organisation had witnessed a 19 per cent rise in complaints from 2010-11, with 36,000 disputes received in 2011-12.
Of these, half were concerning credit - up 27 per cent.
The main factor behind this surge in credit complaints, FOS states, was "a very steep rise" in disputes lodged by people and small businesses in financial difficulty.
"The continued rise in disputes about financial difficulty suggest that a growing number of Australians are struggling financially and finding it hard to keep up on their payments," the report states.
Of these financial difficulty disputes, the report found that most were related to home loans and credit cards, and involved a bank, credit provider or debt collector.
"Last year we noted that many consumers who lodge disputes concerning financial difficulty have made repeated requests for assistance from their financial services provider and have experienced long-term financial difficulty.
"This has not changed," the report states.
Another factor adding to the rise in complaints was a jump in the number of general insurance disputes, which accounted for 29 per cent of all grievances lodged.
While some of these complaints related to the 2010-11 floods in Victoria and Queensland, FOS said they had also seen a jump in the number of standard disputes.
"The work on (insurance) claims related to natural disasters has caused some delays in the processing of other claims."
Among the emerging issues FOS pointed to were credit repair agencies bringing disputes to the FOS and then charging to do so, despite the service being free for consumers.