The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and the Australian
Securities and Investments Commission will hold a phone-in day
dedicated to debt collection concerns on Thursday (31 July 2008).
"The Debt Collection Day is a joint-initiative to assist consumers who
have experienced problems with debt collectors or creditors," ACCC
Chairman, Mr Graeme Samuel, said.
"The purpose of the day is to gather information about issues of
concern in relation to debt collection and unlawful conduct by debt
collectors or creditors, and increase consumer awareness of their
rights and avenues for complaint," ASIC Chairman, Mr Tony D'Aloisio,
Consumers can call the hotline on 1300 302 502 anytime from 8.30
a.m.-5.30 p.m. AEST on Thursday.
Mr Samuel and Mr D'Aloisio noted that both agencies have been concerned
about reports of unlawful practices adopted by debt collectors and
creditors when attempting to secure repayment of debts. Some of the
conduct raising concerns for the ACCC and ASIC includes:
* heavy-handed collection tactics, including persistent and
unreasonable levels of contact
* misrepresenting the consequences of non-payment
* unconscionable conduct in relation to the establishment of repayment
* inappropriate contact with, or representations to, family members,
work colleagues and other third parties in breach of privacy laws
* assignment or sale of the debt without notifying the debtor, or
* misidentification of alleged debtors and inappropriate credit default
The ACCC and ASIC remain concerned about ongoing reports of harassment
and coercion, and other problems in relation to debt collection
"We remind businesses that while they are entitled to recover debts
owed to them by consumers that they must conduct all collection
practices in a professional manner," Mr D'Aloisio said.
"We will not tolerate conduct where consumers have been threatened by
debt collectors. Consumers who have been contacted at their home or
workplace at unreasonable times, threatened verbally or physically, or
have been hassled about debts they do not owe or have paid, are urged
to call the hotline," Mr Samuel said.
The ACCC and ASIC will use the information obtained during the phone-in
day to assess possible breaches of the Trade Practices Act or ASIC Act.
Hotline staff cannot provide advice to help resolve financial
difficulties. Consumers experiencing difficulties meeting their
financial commitments should contact a financial counsellor as soon as
Consumers are encouraged to visit FIDO, ASIC's consumer website
(www.fido.gov.au) or the ACCC website (www.accc.gov.au) for advice on
managing money and debt problems.
Contact details for local financial counselling services can be found
on the Australian Financial Counsellors and Credit Reform Association
The Financial Information Service (FIS) available through Centrelink
also provides education and information on a wide range of financial
issues. Call 132 300 and ask for the Financial Information Service or
136357 to book into a seminar.
CONTACT: Mr Graeme Samuel, Chairman, ACCC
Tel: +61 03 9290 1812
Tel: +61 0408 335 555
Ms Lin Enright, Director, Public Relations, ACCC
Tel: +61 02 6243 1108
Tel: +61 0414 613 520
General inquiries, Infocentre
Tel: +61 1300 302 502
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