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At LCollect we believe that knowledge is power. Every month our debt collection blog gives you practical tips, stories and news from around Australia and the world.

ASIC Recommends Buy Now Pay Later Reform

Thursday, August 30, 2018 - Posted by Michael McCulloch

In our January 2018 edition of debt collection news we posted an article AfterPay and zipPay Post-Christmas Warning which indicated that Westpac was warning their brokers that these payment schemes must be assessed as a liability when assessing a persons capacity to service a mortgage.

This month the Australian Securties & Investments Commission (ASIC) has come out and released a report "Design and Distribution Obligations and Product Intervention Power"which recommends broadening their powers to cover the buy now, pay later sector which is not currently regulated by the National Credit Code. In the report ASIC noted:

  • providers may carry out limited inquiries of the consumers' financial situation prior to providing credit (noting the responsibile lending obligations do not apply);
  • some providers are funding high cost purchases (up to $30,000) over long repayment period;
  • consumers may lack understanding of what fees and charges are payable and when; and
  • vulnerable consumers may be using these products.

ASIC went on to say in the report that as those in the buy now, pay later sector do not charge fees or interest so therefore do not meet the definition of "credit" under the Code:

  • do not meet the definition of credit within the National Credit Code. Some providers extend funds without charging fees or interest and as such do not meet the definition of 'credit' under the Code;
  • meet the definition of credit but are exempt under s6(5) of the National Credit Code. Some providers rely on the continuing credit contract exemption under s6(5) of the Code as the only fee they charge is an establishment and/or account fee that does not vary according to the amount of credit provided and is set at a maximum of $200 in the first year and $125 every year thereafter; or
  • meet the definition of credit but are exempt under s6(1) of the National Credit Code: Some providers rely on the short term credit exemption under s6(1) of the Code which requires that the term not exceed 62 days and fees and charges not exceed 5% of the amount of credit.

A review however of the AfterPay website shows that late fees may be payable where an instalment was not paid by the due date:



With AfterPay reporting that late fee income increased 365% ($28.4 million) in their Annual Report, Consumer Action Centre's Senior Policy Officer, Katherine Temple, said in a statement, "Our financial counsellors report that we are receiving increasing numbers of calls from people with buy-now-pay-later debts, including Afterpay. Most people calling us for help who have Afterpay debts are juggling numerous other debts, such as credit cards, payday loans and utility bills."

We will continue to monitor for updates regarding the outcome of the report by ASIC and will post these as and when they become available.


ASIC Approves ABA Code of Practice

Thursday, August 30, 2018 - Posted by Michael McCulloch

In our April 2018 edition of Debt Collection News we reported that the ABA announced a new Banking Code of Practice which was subject to approval by ASIC.

ASIC has now signed off on the new Banking Code of Practice following an independent review and extensive consultation with the ABA.

The new Code provides for increased protections for small business borrowers and expands the reach and impact of legal protections against unfair contract terms. Expanded protections for consumers included:

  • provisions for inclusive and accessible banking;
  • protections relating to the sale of Consumer Credit Insurance (CCI) included a deferred sales period of 4 days for CCI for credit cards and personal loans sold in branches and over the phone;
  • protections for Guarantors giving them generally 3 days to consider information about any guarantee they provide and requiring banks to only enforce a guarantee once action has been taken against the borrower;
  • rules regarding credit card customers to receive reminders about balance transfer promotional periods ending as well as more consistent treatment about how repayments are applied; and
  • enhanced processes for assisting customers in financial difficulty and processes for resolving complaints.

All ABA member banks will be required to subscribe to the Code as a condition of their ABA membership and the relevant protections in the Code will form of the banks' contractual relationship with their banking customers.

The Code will commence operation from July 2019.

Source: Money | Management - July 2018


AFSA Regional Quarterly Insolvency Statistics June 2018

Thursday, August 30, 2018 - Posted by Michael McCulloch

The Australian Financial Security Authority (AFSA) has recently released their regional personal insolvency statistics for the June quarter 2018.

Debtor increases were seen across all regional areas, except Greater Hobart and the Australian Capital Territory, between the March quarter 2018 and June quarter 2018. Wanneroo in Western Australia recorded the most personal bankruptcies being filed with 117 followed by Wyndham in Victoria (93) and Wyong in New South Wales (89).

The regional statistics report on all debtors who became bankrupt or entered into a debt agreement or personal insolvency agreement during the quarter. The number of debtors is measured as follows:

  • The number of debtors who become bankrupt under a Debtor's Petition, Sequestration Order or Part XI Deceased Estate bankruptcy administration in the quarter.
  • The number of debtors whose debt agreement proposal were accepted by Creditors in the quarter (Part IX Debt Agreements).
  • The number of debtors whose personal insolvency agreement proposed were accepted by Creditors in the quarter (Part X Debt Agreements).
Where a debtor does not disclose their main cause of insolvency it is taken as being non-business related.

The quarterly regional personal insolvency statistics can be downloaded for each State and Territory using the links below:


The full reports can be downloaded from the Quarterly Regional Personal Insolvency Statistic Reports.



Federal Court Finds Against Debt Collection Agency

Thursday, August 30, 2018 - Posted by Michael McCulloch

A debt collection agency who act for Telstra has lost their case in the Federal Court following proceedings being commenced by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).

The proceedings, which commenced in June 2016, highlighted the pressure some agencies apply to collect payment including engaging in misleading, deceptive and unconscionable conduct in it's dealings with 2 particular customers.

The first customer, CT*, who was living in a care facility on a disability support pension, after having suffered 3 strokes, received in excess of 60 demands for payment for a debt of $5,770. The Court found that the agency knew of CT's condition, which left him with the inability to care for himself or readily speak, however called the care facility approximately 40 times and sent approximately 20 demand letters seeking payment. Several times CT was threatended with legal action despite the agency not having any plans to follow through with the threat.

In the other matter a single Victorian mother of three, who worked part time and received a Centrelink payment, was demanded to pay $3,150. It was alleged that the woman was told that legal proceedings would be commenced against her and that a payment default would be recorded. The woman in question promised a payment of 50% of the debt in an attempt to avoid legal proceedings, despite this payment leaving her unable to pay rent and meet her other day-to-day expenses.

The Judgment, which you can read online, also criticises the capitalised use of words in demand letters and the use of “the words 'could' and 'may' would reasonably be read in the light of the prominent heading to the pro forma letter, the terms of which strongly suggest that ACM intended shortly to commence legal proceedings .....".

In a statement to the media the ACCC said that they will be seeking Orders preventing agencies engaging in misleading, deceptive and unconscionable conduct and will be seeking for large fines to be imposed.

Source: itnews - July 2018

* Name noted as per the original Judgment


Consultation of AFCAs Proposed Funding Model

Monday, July 30, 2018 - Posted by Michael McCulloch

The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) has recently released a consultation paper which sets out how the new external dispute resolution scheme proposes to recover the cost of it operations.

A three-phase funding model has been developed by AFCA. Extracted from the AFCA Funding Model Overview:

Phase I - Transition Funding
  • Meeting the costs of AFCA's establishment so that it is adequately prepared to receive and handle complaints from commencement on 01/11/2018.
  • Transition funding covers both the governance-related costs and the costs of establishing and operationalising AFCA to be ready to receive up to 1,000 complaints in the first week of commencement. In the May 2018 the Federal Governement allocated $1.7 million as contribution to AFCA's 2018-19 establishment costs.

Phase II - Interim Funding Model

  • To apply for the first three years of AFCA operations (FY2018/2019 – FY2020/2021). During this period a hybrid funding model is proposed to be applied - based on aspects of the existing scheme funding arrangements for Firms that are FOS and CIO scheme members, and the APRA levy model for superannuation trustees who become AFCA members.
  • The first two months of funding in 2018-19 cover the operations of the FOS scheme (operated by AFCA), funded by FOS members who transitioned their membership to AFCA on 1 May 2018, with the next two months funded by both FOS and CIO members. The subsequent eight months will fund the newly formed AFCA from its commencement on 1 November 2018, and will be managed in accordance with the interim funding model, outlined in this funding model overview.
  • The interim funding arrangements will apply while AFCA establishes an evidence base of complaint volumes and complexity in an expanded jurisdiction, and settles complaint handling approaches and required skills/resources to manage the full range of complaints.

Phase III - A Long-Term Funding Model
  • A long-term funding model – to be adopted following a full funding review based on complaint forecasts, operational efficiency savings across the consolidated scheme, and resource requirements for the long-term future of AFCA.
  • The review will seek options for a revised funding model developed from consultation with stakeholders and settlement by the AFCA board following discussion with the Minister for Revenue and Financial Services and ASIC. The long-term funding model is proposed to be implemented from July 2021.

Feedback regarding the consultation paper can be directed to AFCA via email.


Victoria Plans Crackdown on Debt Collection Industry

Monday, July 30, 2018 - Posted by Michael McCulloch

The Labor party in Victoria has planned a crackdown on debt collection in Victoria if re-elected at the November State election.

news.com.au and radio 3AW 693 are reporting that organised crime groups will be the focus of a planned State Government crackdown on the debt collection industry with Police Minister, Lisa Neville, announcing earlier this month an overhaul of the regulations. In a statement to the media she said, "We'll clean up this industry, like we did with scrap metal - to tackle organised crime and crack down on rogue operators."

The Labor Government, if re-elected, would like to establish a dedicated commission and harsher penalties for those involved in unlicensed debt debt collection in Victoria and would work more closely with the police, Consumer Affairs Victoria and industry leaders to clean-up the industry.

Chief Executive of the Australian Collectors and Debt Buyers, Alan Harriers, said in response, "If they are that [sic] then it's up to Fair Trading to stop them as being illegal persons doing debt collection. I am unaware of any prosecutions against people in this regard. If they were actual proper debt buyers, they would hold an Australian credit licence that is issued by ASIC. It's a very highly regulated industry."

In Victoria there is not a legal requirement in which to hold a debt collection licence.


Release of New Bankruptcy Notice Warning

Monday, July 30, 2018 - Posted by Michael McCulloch

The Australian Financial Security Authority (AFSA) has recently published a fact sheet that they recommend be attached to all future Bankruptcy Notices.

The fact sheet, Warning - You May Be Declared Bankrupt, outlines to the Judgment Debtor the options available to them rather than ignoring the Bankruptcy Notice or unintentionally committing an act of bankruptcy.

AFSA claim that by providing this information it will potentially shorten the administrative burden on Creditors, Judgment Debtors and Trustees with the possibility of potential bankrupts making arrangements to repay their Creditors or contest a Bankruptcy Notice sooner rather than later.

Feedback can be provided to AFSA about the document via stakeholders@afsa.gov.au by 30 July 2018.

Source: AFSA Newsroom - July 2018

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Changes to Garnishee Orders in NSW

Monday, July 30, 2018 - Posted by Michael McCulloch

There has been an amendment to the requirements for issuing Garnishee Orders for Ddebts. If you are using this enforcement action, you must now state the grounds relied on in support of identifying a debt owed by the Garnishee to the Judgment Debtor in the form of an Affidavit.

UCPR 39.35 now states:

(1) Unless the court orders otherwise, an applicant for a garnishee order must file an affidavit in support of the application, being an affidavit sworn not more than 14 days before the date of filing.
(2) The affidavit in support:
(a) must identify the garnishee, and any debts that are, or are reasonably likely to be, owed by the garnishee to the judgment debtor, and
(a1) must state the grounds relied on in support of identifying a debt for the purposes of paragraph (a), and
(b) must state the amount payable under the judgment, together with any costs and interest payable in relation to the judgment, as at the date of swearing of the affidavit.

For advice as to what this legislative change may mean to you and future applications for Garnishee Orders we recommend that you contact Collection Law Partners or seek your own independent advice from a qualified legal practitioner.


Trustee Discloses Likely Bankrupt Professions

Monday, July 30, 2018 - Posted by Michael McCulloch

In a recent interview with nestegg.com.au, principal registered trustee, Andrew Aravanis of Aravanis Insolvency, has disclosed the professions most likely to file for bankruptcy based on their own 2017 client base.

Making the top 5 professions were:

  1. Managers (sales, marketing, PR, business administration, ICT)
  2. Machine and stationary plant operators
  3. Road and rail drivers
  4. Business, human resource and marketing professionals
  5. Health professionals (nurses and midwives)

In the interview Mr Aravanis said that those filing for bankruptcy did not appear to share any common traits apart from being in severe financial difficulty caused by redundancy, family breakdowns or bereavement. He went on to say, "Although it is happening slowly, more and more Australians are realising that bankruptcy is actually a valid choice when faced with overwhelming debt. With more information on how to navigate bankruptcy and with the stigma fading away, thousands of Australians are choosing personal insolvency options like bankruptcy to help them to move on from an unmanageable financial situation and a highly stressful emotional position."

Mr Aravanis went on to say that those experiencing financial difficulty can access professional services for free. Some of these services include the National Debt Helpline or finding a financial counsellor through Financial Counselling Australia.

ASIC Releases Regulatory Guide 267 Oversight of AFCA

Monday, July 30, 2018 - Posted by Michael McCulloch

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has now released Regulatory Guide 267 Oversight of the Australian Financial Complaints Authority ahead of the 1 November 2018 transition.

The RG sets out how ASIC will perform their oversight role in relation to the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) and includes guidance regarding members AFCA membership obligations.

ASIC has noted that it will retain its existing guidance under RG 139 until all complaints made under the existing schemes have been resolved and also stated, "Licensees and credit representatives must continue to maintain their EDR [external dispute resolution] membership through the transitional period, including paying membership and other scheme fees in full as required."

Download RG 267 Oversight of the Australian Financial Complaints Authority



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