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Building Societies, Credit Unions and Retail Banks Sign Up to Help Borrowers in Distress

Saturday, August 01, 2009 - Posted by Philip Harvey

Following from last months article on Hardship, The Federal Treasurer (Wayne Swan) recently announced "that all 144 retail banks, building societies and credit unions have signed up to the Government's Principles to assist borrowers who are experiencing financial difficulty as a result of the global recession." 

Options available under these principles to assist borrows in distress include;

  • postponement for up to 12 months the dates on which payments are due under a mortgage contract (with interest to be capitalised into the loan);
  • an extension of the period of the contract and a reduction in the amount of each payment due under the contract;
  • interest-only breaks on loan repayments;
  • fee waivers;
  • extending the loan term and reducing repayments;
  • reducing the limit available under the credit contract and
  • one off temporary overdrafts for short term needs

Additional to this is the Hardship threshold limit increasing to $500,000.

All members of the Association of Building Societies and Credit Unions (ABACUS) have signed and agreed to these principles. ABACUS have released these principles which are located on this link.

To view the full press release made by the Treasurer click here

Further the the Treasurer's announcement and ABACUS accepting the principles, an ASIC press release under the new National Consumer Credit Bill has advised that ASIC's expectation is that Credit Licensees have a contact number for hardship applications. 
ASIC's comments;
"We consider that credit licensees should have clear and effective arrangements to assist borrowers who are facing financial hardship. This includes having a dedicated telephone number for consumers to make hardship applications."

The full ASIC release can be viewed here (ASIC consultation paper 112) 


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