10 September 2016: Debt Collectors

On this month’s show, Gemma discussed debt collectors and the Debt Collection Guidelines that make sure debt collection activity is consistent with consumer protection laws.

Debt collectors collect debts on behalf of businesses. They either act on behalf of a business or act independently after purchasing the debt from the business. The guidelines that apply to them include:

  • Respecting your privacy. There are limits to disclosing information to third parties. Debt collectors must also identify who they are, who they work for, and the purpose of the call.
  • Debt collectors must not falsely state that they work for, or are a solicitor, or that they work for the courts or government
  • If you dispute that you owe the debt, the debt collector must not contact you again until they provide you with written proof that you owe the debt. If you want to dispute the debt, you should do this in writing.
  • Limiting contact for reasonable purposes only. Debt collectors cannot pressure, mislead, harass or threaten you or your family.
  • A debt collector must not demand that you repay the entire debt immediately, if they know that you are unable to do so.
  • Limits on how, when and how often they can contact you and other third parties.

In addition, under the Australian Consumer Law there are a number of restrictions on debt collectors’ conduct. Debt collectors cannot:

  • Unduly harass, use physical force, or coerce you.
  • Enter onto private property to repossess secured goods without a court order/consent.
  • Make misleading and deceptive misrepresentations.
  • Engage in conduct that is particularly harsh or oppressive.

These laws apply to a debt collector’s conduct towards you, and conduct towards your partner, family member, or anyone else connected with you.

If you believe a debt collector has breached these guidelines when trying to collect a debt from you, you have multiple options. You can:

  • Make a written complaint to the complaints department of the Debt Collector (or if the Debt Collector is an agent, to the original business).
  • If this fails, you can make a complaint to the relevant ombudsman, if applicable (Financial Ombudsman Service or Credit & Investments Ombudsman)
  • You can also make a complaint to Department of Commerce (WA), ACCC and ASIC.
  • If you are in financial difficulty, and are unable to make or manage repayments, you may wish to contact a financial counsellor, or you can contact us for legal advice.
  • You can visit our website for more info: cclswa.org.au
  • You can call our advice line: 9221 7066


Tune in next month for a new segment with Gemma Mitchell and James Wray!