The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS), an impartial body that settles disputes between banks and their customers in the UK, has noted an alarming rise in complaints against finance companies in the past year.

More positively however, the number of complaints about the mis-selling of endowment mortgages is ‘leveling off’. Total complaints reported to the FOS reached nearly 700,000 in 2005-6, the highest total yet recorded, while those complaints against banks specifically were up by a third.

In cases of endowment mortgage mis-selling, traditionally the largest single cause for appeal to the FOS, the number of cases fell slightly to 69,000 for the year to March 2006, and the ombudsman indicated this trend is likely to continue.

Payment protection insurance however is a growth area for dissatisfied customers: here the number of complaints fielded by FOS grew by 60% and those over income protection insurance by 12.5%, This is Money reported citing the FOS report.