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Debt Collection News

Released every month our debt collection blog contains news, stories and tips to keep you informed.

Court Closures 2017-2018 Christmas Period

Saturday, December 30, 2017 - Posted by Michael McCulloch

As is the usual practice this time of year we have received notification that several Courts will not be opened or will have limited staff over the Christmas / New Year period.

As of 18/12 notification has been received from the following States and Territories:

New South Wales
A majority of Registries will be closed from Monday, 25 December 2017 and will re-open Monday, 8 January 2018.

All Registries will be closed from Wednesday, 27 December 2017 and will re-open Monday, 8 January 2018.


Australian Capital Territory
All Registries will close from 4.30pm on Friday, 22 December 2017 and will re-open Tuesday, 2 January 2018.

Northern Territory

South Australia
Magistrates' Court Registries permanently staff during the Christmas / New Year period except for gazetted public holidays.
Supreme and District Court Registries closed from Friday, 22 December 2017 and will re-open on Tuesday, 2 January 2018.


Western Australia

Please remember that our office will also be closed over the Christmas and New Year period with us returning for business on Wednesday, 3 January 2018.

Banned Debt Collection Practices

Saturday, December 30, 2017 - Posted by Michael McCulloch

Consumer Affairs Victoria has recently re-released an article which outlines the debt collection practices that are banned in Victoria.

The ban covers the following:

  1. Entering or threatening to enter a private residence without lawful authority
  2. Using any threat, deception or misrepresentation to obtain consent to enter a private residence
  3. Refusing to leave a private residence or workplace when asked to do so
  4. Exposing or threatening to expose a person or a member of that person’s family to ridicule or intimidation
  5. Using a document that looks like an official document but is not
  6. Impersonating a government employee or agent
  7. Attempting or threatening to possess any property to which you are not entitled. For example, when collecting a debt, you must not say you are going to seize a home or other property that you cannot legally take
  8. Disclosing or threatening to disclose debt information, without the debtor’s consent, to any person who does not have a legitimate interest in the information
  9. Making a false or misleading representation regarding the nature or extent of a debt, or the consequences of not paying a debt. For example:
    (a): Falsely representing that a debt is a fine or other penalty imposed by law, or that a person has committed an offence
    (b): Threatening to make a false or misleading credit report.
  10. Contacting a person by a method that they have asked not to be used, unless there is no other means available. For example, you must not contact a debtor at their workplace when they have asked to be contacted only at home, or contact them directly when they have asked that all communications be handled by their lawyer or financial counsellor
  11. Contacting a person about a debt after they have advised in writing that no further communication should be made about that debt. This applies unless you:
    (a): Contact the debtor through an action issued by a court or the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT)
    (b): Are threatening the debtor with court or VCAT action that the creditor intends to take
    (c): Are communicating with the person to comply with a requirement under the National Credit Code.
  12. Communicating with a person under 18 about a debt, if the person is not the debtor
  13. Demanding payment of a debt from someone without having a reasonable belief that they are the debtor. For example, demanding payment from every ‘J Smith’ who resides in a suburb in an attempt to collect a debt owed by John Smith
  14. Communicating with a person in a manner that is unreasonable in its frequency, nature or content.

The ban extends to Mercantile Agents (debt collection agencies), Commercial Agents (process servers, repossession agents, etc) but to also those employed, directly or indirectly, by a business or individual to make a demand for payment of a debt including collection officers, accounts receivables clerks, credit managers, etc

It should be noted that the banned practices as outlined above should also be read in conjunction with RG 96 Debt Collection Guidelines as produced by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and ASIC.

Unpaid Debts Paid Back Through Working Hours

Saturday, December 30, 2017 - Posted by Michael McCulloch

A program introduced in 2009 is helping some with unpaid debts to State Debt Recovery pay back their fines but not through a monetary payment but through working hours.

The State Debt Recovery Work Development Order ("WDO") allows those with fines, who meet certain criteria, to reduce their fines through unpaid work for approved organisations. Those who may be eligible to apply for a WDO include:

- Those that have a mental illness, intellectual disability or cognitive impairment
- Those who are homeless;
- Those who have a serious addiction to drugs, alcohol or volatile substances; or
- People experiencing financial hardship.

Brian Roberts, 39 of Moree NSW, successfully paid of $4,000 in fines using the program and has been able to get his drivers licence for the first time in 20 years. He said in a statement, "Be persistent in chasing up your fines. Don’t be lazy and sit back and think it’s going to go away. The assistance is out there.

The reduction in fines is at the discretion of the State Debt Recovery Office ("SDRO"), with those defaulting under the WDO incurring an additional $65 penalty for each offence and being referred back to SDRO for further action including the suspension of licenses, cancellation of motor vehicle registrations and potential gaol time.

You can find out more about the program at NSW Revenue.

ASIC MoneySmart Teaching (Update)

Saturday, December 30, 2017 - Posted by Michael McCulloch

In our April 2017 edition we released a blog post about the Australian Securities & Investments Commission ("ASIC") releasing a new public resource called ASIC MoneySmart Teaching.

The independent evaluation has now been released by ASIC which you can download from their website.

The report contains ASIC's response to the independent valuation of the program and the independent evaluation of the program. Case studies have also been provided from several participating schools with 2 notable student quotes:

"... so you don’t make mistakes when you’re older, like buy a Lamborghini before you get a house and then you don't have any money."

"You learn to read the fine print ... because [the product] could be amazing and in bright colours, but if you look at the tiny asterisk down the bottom, it says ‘this product may cause death."

You can learn more about the MoneySmart Teaching program via their website.

Source: ASIC - December 2017

404 Credit Licences Cancelled by ASIC

Thursday, December 28, 2017 - Posted by Michael McCulloch

In a report released by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission ("ASIC") it has been revealed that a total of 404 Australian Credit Licences were cancelled between 1 July 2016 and 30 June 2017.

The report, Overview of Licensing and Professional Registration Applications, showed that 7 credit licences were suspended and 404 cancelled with the most common reason for cancellation being the company being placed into external administration, becoming deregistered, failure to comply with licence conditions to applying to ASIC for suspension or cancellation.

Of the 404 cancellations, 97 were initiated by ASIC through enforcement action while the remainder were initiated by the licencee themselves. In the report ASIC wrote that, "The most common reason for withdrawals is linked to the quality of the application – that is, where we communicate to the applicant, and the applicant agrees, that the final outcome is likely to be a refusal if the matter proceeds to a hearing."

The full report can be downloaded from here.

Source: ASIC - December 2017

1 Error Results in $4.6M Debt (Update)

Thursday, December 28, 2017 - Posted by Michael McCulloch

In our May 2016 issue of Debt Collection News we reported that an internal oversight by Westpac resulted in a 21 year old student overdrawing her account by $4.6 million

The Sydney Morning Herald reported on 01/12 that criminal charges against the 21 year old, Christine Jia Xin Lee, have been dropped.  Magistrate Lisa Stapleton indicated earlier on in the proceedings that Ms Lee may not have broken any laws at all.

The Department of Public Prosecution dropped the charges after a similar case involving a man withdrawing $2.1 million from ATMs was dismissed by the Court.

In response to the charges being dropped a spokesperson for Westpac said, "Westpac has taken all possible steps to recover its funds, including taking civil action against Ms Lee. The criminal charges against Ms Lee were a matter for the DPP and Police, and we respect their decision.” Ms Lee's lawyer, Hugo Aston, said in a statement, "She is happy it is behind her, and to move on with her life. There was no deception. It’s a very interesting case, and an interesting outcome. It is obviously clear the bank should adopt better policies.”

NSW Police have indicated that they will continue to hold onto a number of items, including luxury handbags, pending the outcome of the civil proceedings commenced by Westpac in which to recover the monies.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald - December 2017

Christmas and New Year Office Closure 2017

Monday, December 04, 2017 - Posted by Michael McCulloch

The offices of LCollect and Collection Law Partners will close at midday on Friday, 22 December 2017 and return for business on Wednesday, 3 January 2018.

If you have instructions to postpone or cease collection activity during this period that you contact us as soon as possible so your request can be accommodated.

If you require urgent assistance during this period please phone Philip Harvey.

We would like to thank you for your continued support in 2017 and look forward to working with you in 2018 and beyond.

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