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A man, allegedly* owning 4 properties in Shoalhaven NSW, has had a debt collector attend his Sydney property for rates that were 5 weeks overdue.
Stuart Cregan claims that he has paid council rates promptly every year for the last 20 years and claims that Shoalhaven Council did not write to him nor call him to remind him to pay the outstanding rates prior to the debt referred to a debt collection agency.
Mr Cregan contacted the media to make others aware of the tactics used by Shoalhaven Council and said in a statement, "I unfortunately missed one set of quarterly rates on one of the four residential properties I am involved with, purely due to a bookkeeping error, a couple of weeks later, thugs on my doorstep. I asked the man what he wanted, he told me to ring a number and pointed to the piece of paper he was holding. I refused and he continued with his spiel. I asked him to identify himself, again no response other than a first name. The conversation became intense. I asked him to leave as he wouldn’t identify himself, he continued with his thug-like spiel and wouldn’t leave until under intense pressure. I assisted him off my property, he advised he would be back. I'm a large person, I didn't back down. What would happen if it was a little old lady, or handicapped person, or my wife, it's just not on."
A spokesperson for Shoalhaven Council said in response, "Council has been outsourcing debt recovery to an external agency for some time. This is common practice for a number of local councils due efficiencies that are provided by these agencies. Council said the agency issues reminder notices before they take further action. Reminder notices are issued by our Debt Recovery Agency using Council letterhead. Then, if the overdue amount has not been paid or a satisfactory payment arrangement made, as per the Debt Recovery Policy, the account is referred to Council’s Debt Recovery Agency for further action."/p>
* Searches that we conducted of NSW LPI did not return any records for Mr Cregan as owning or having an interest in properties located in the Shoalhaven City Council area. Further searches also failed to locate Mr Cregan of being a Director of any company that may have had an interest in any such properties. It may be noted that any such properties may be in the name of other parties