The Banking Ombudsman says the number of complaints to her office is at a record high, with consumer hardship cases making up a significant proportion.
Since late 2008, the number of complaints has almost doubled, to about 1200 per year. About a third of those are hardship related.
They include accusations of irresponsible lending, complaints about mortgage break fees and applications to withdraw money from KiwiSaver.
Banking Ombudsman Deborah Battell says lenders are putting a large number of measures in place to try to assist people - particularly following the Christchurch earthquakes - but she warns that this cannot last forever.