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Debt Collectors

They do it every day. Level the playing field by knowing what they can – and can’t – do.
And what you can do.
 
They can contact you by phone, letter, email, social media or by visiting you in person, but:

  • not on public holidays.
  • not more than 3 times per week or 10 times per month.
  • not after 9pm or before 7:30am (9am on weekends).
  • not in any way that reveals that they are a debt collector, or provides information about your finances to other people (without your permission).

They can’t…

  • make false statements about your debt or what will happen if it is not paid on time.
  • pretend to be a solicitor or send you documents designed to look like court documents.
  • intimidate or shout or verbally abuse you.
  • block your way or block access to your property.
  • tresspass on your property when you have asked them to leave.
  • threaten physical force against you or your property.

 

What you can do…

Try to negotiate a repayment plan. Ask them to extend your repayment period or allow you to make smaller repayments over a longer time.

Make sure you get everything in writing, and if you do reach agreement with a debt collector, ask for it to be confirmed by letter or email, or send written confirmation to them and keep copies of everything.

You are entitled to dispute the debt if you think it is not yours or disagree with the amount owing. Ask for an itemised statement setting out the amount and how it was calculated (including principal, interest, fees and charges), together with details of all payments made.

You can also ask for a hardship variation(in writing), as set out in section 72 of the National Consumer Credit Code – but be prepared to justify your financial hardship by explaining why you are having difficulties making payments, how long you think your financial problems will continue and how much you can afford to repay.
 

Ask for help

  • Call the government’s free financial counseling hotline on 1800 007 007 (from 9:30am to 4pm, Monday to Friday).
  • Lodge a dispute with your credit provider’s External Dispute Resolution scheme
    • either the Financial Ombudsman Service on 1300 780 808
    • or the Credit and Investments Ombudsman on 1800 138 422.

 

Have you received a summons, a statement of claim or a liquidated claim?

If you’re being taken to court, don’t ignore it or judgment may be entered against you in your absence.

Seek legal advice immediately. If you can’t afford a solicitor, get free legal advice.

 

What are your thoughts?

Have you been contacted by a debt collector or received a summons or claim against you? Is there anything else you’d like to know about managing your debts?

Join the conversation — leave a comment below and let us know what you’re thoughts are.