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.
Did you know that one of the resources that we offer on our website are workflows that outline the legal system to recover debts in Australia?
We frequently update these workflows along with the appropriate costings so you can make informed decisions about the best way in which to recover your debt.
You can find this information here.
Disclaimer: The information provided in these workflows does not constitute legal advice and should not be used as such. You should obtained your own independent legal advice before acting or relying its content.
The Credit & Investments Ombudsman ("CIO") has this month released a new fact sheet, "Credit Reporting: Enquiries".
The fact sheet covers:
5 people in the US have had charges filed against them following their involvement in a local debt collection scheme according to the Ventura County District Attorney's Office.
The 5 people, named as Timothy Burke, Deisi Rivera, Angela Covarrubias, Veronica Ventura and Elizabeth Olvera, were charged with multiple felony counts including money laundering, rand theft, theft from an elder and conspiracy to commit false advertising. Additionally they have been charged with aggravated white-collar crime enhancement of stealing more than US$100,000
The District Attorney allege that Burke and Rivera ran several fraudulent debt collection agencies from 2013 to 2017 where they offered debt collection services to victims where they would collect fees upfront and utilise those fees to pay for their own personal expenses instead of providing a service or repaying Creditors. It is alleged that Ventura joined the scheme in 2015 as the General Manager with Covarrubias and Olvera involved in the management of the scheme since 2016.
Investigations by the District Attorney are continuing in conjunction with the FBI with Burke and Rivera currently in custody in lieu of a US$1.1 million bail, Covarrubias and Olvera are on bail and Ventura is on supervised community release pending their Court date.
Source: VC Star - November 2017
Atlantic DVD, who operated their store out of Semaphore South Australia, have allegedly sold a list of their outstanding debts to a debt collection agency.
The company, which ceased trading after 30 years in business, is allegedly pursuing customer for late payment fees allegedly incurred between 2011 and 2017. Several customers have indicated their disgust to the media including Rebecca Lynch who received a $40 demand for 5 films returned one day late in 2016 with the total fine being $17 and a letter cost of $22. Ms Lynch said in a statement, "That’s the second letter now and I don’t even recognise the titles as being something I would borrow — and as for the fee they chucked on, well, that’s bloody rude".
John Fitzpatrick, another former customer, has taken a more pro-active approach and has contested his $67 fine ($26 in late fees and $41 in fees) by demanding proof of the original agreement and rental payment. He said in a statement, "It’s truly just a game — if it ever went to debtors court, the collectors would need to prove the debt".
To date representatives of both Atlantic DVD and their debt collection agency have not responded for comment.
Source: Adelaide Now - November 2017
Last month the Financial Ombudsman Service Australia ("FOS") released a new publication, "The FOS Approach to Financial Elder Abuse".
The publication is one of a series of documents released on a regular basis by FOS with this particular publication focusing on the challenges faced by identifying the warning signs of financial elder abuse, what is considered good industry practice and how they assess such disputes.
Philip Lead, Lead Ombudsman of Banking and Finance said, "As our society ages, FOS is seeing a greater number of disputes involving older Australians and their financial services providers. This abuse can involve the misuse of, or theft from, a bank account or other financial services product. Financial services employees need to be encouraged to trust their instincts when it comes to recognising this form of abuse."
Mr Field cited research indicating that between 2% and 10% of the older Australian population suffer such abuse every year with most abusers being relatives or caregivers or those who have gained the elderly persons trust and take an opportunistic approach.
You can download a copy of the publication from here.
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
Perth Now are reporting that parents in Western Australia have dodged paying $2.4 million in school fees in 2016-17.
Approximately $1.5 million of the $2.4 million quoted was for compulsory year 11 and year 12 fees for subject charges and extra-curricular activities for all years. A spokesperson for the Education Department said, "These are courses which parents have enrolled their children into, knowing the cost upfront. Payment plans can be arranged to suit individual circumstances so families experiencing difficulty can pay off the course cost over time. If debt collectors are used, under the department’s policy schools must tell them not to refer to legal action or credit agencies in their letters to families."
The Education Department has claimed that the circumstances of each family are taken into consideration with many debts written-off in accordance with legislative requirements.
Approximately 39% of the $2.4 million was for families holding 457 Visas who failed to pay in full or part of the $4,000 enrolment fee for public schools. This fee was introduced in 2015 by the WA State Government to help cope with the influx of children belonging to migrant workers who enrolled in public schools.
The department went on to say that to date 250 families had not made a payment for the 2016 school year while a further 139 had only made partial payments and again reiterated that arrangements could be made for payment of school fees. The spokesperson said that children of 457 Visa holders with unpaid fees were allowed to continue to attend public schools despite non-payment by their parents.
Source: Perth Now - October 2017