ACCC and ASIC release guide for consumers dealing with debt collectors

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) have launched Dealing with debt collectors: Your rights and responsibilities afree guide that helps consumers in trouble with debt understand their options so they know how to deal with collectors and creditors.

The consumer guide explains:

  • People’s legal rights and responsibilities if they owe a debt;
  • Where to seek help to work out a budget, negotiate a repayment plan, apply for hardship or better understand their financial and legal options;
  • What to do if a debt collector contacts them;
  • What sort of behaviour by debt collectors is not acceptable;
  • How to dispute an alleged debt or its amount; and
  • What to do if they are being taken to court.

Dealing with debt collectors also summarises how and when debt collectors can contact someone and provides examples of inappropriate behaviour by debt collectors.

‘If consumers are having problems repaying their debts, it’s important to take action without delay. This free guide explains the options available to consumers to help them cope with the situation and hopefully get back on track’, said ASIC Deputy Chairman Peter Kell.

‘The ACCC and ASIC encourage consumer advocacy groups and financial counsellors to refer consumers to the booklet to help them understand their legal rights and responsibilities if they owe a debt’, added Mr Kell.

ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said: ‘It is important for consumers to be aware of their rights when dealing with debt collectors and to know how to complain.

The ACCC and ASIC continue to receive complaints about the behaviour of some debt collectors and creditors. Consumers should expect to be treated professionally and in a manner that complies with Commonwealth consumer protection laws.

‘Where creditors or collectors disregard consumer protection laws and the rights of consumers, we will consider appropriate enforcement action against them’, added Ms Rickard.

Dealing with debt collectors: Your rights and responsibilities can be downloaded from ASIC’s MoneySmart or from the ACCC’s website.