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.
Do you know when your interest on the Personal Property Securities Register (PPSR) is due to expire?
It can be one of the more challenging things that we come across in the debt collection industry. A customer has relocated several times over a number of years however the debt is believed to be secured by an asset which, if repossessed, may finalise the debt or may entice the debtor to enter into a repayment arrangement which is maintained. Upon conducting a search of the PPSR it's then found that the security interest has lapsed. You now have essentially an unsecured debt with very little or no bargaining power.
While many organations used to employ a specialists securities agents this role has gradually been phased out and is now considered a day-to-day role of administration staff who may or may not keep an accurate register and may not know or realise the implications of the interest lapsing especially where a debt has been written-off. If this sounds familiar did you know that if you have a PPSR login that you can generate a report called Registrations Due to Expire?
The report includes information such as:
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:
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:
The Code will commence operation from July 2019.
Source: Money | Management - July 2018
The Attorney Generals Department has recently released a discussion paper regarding the relationship between consumer credit reporting and hardship.
The purpose of the paper is to examine whether hardship is currently treated adequately under the credit reporting provisions in Part IIIA of the Privacy Act, whether there are opportunities for reform and if so what reforms are appropriate.
The Attorney Generals Department did stress that the paper is not a general review of repayment history information in the consumer credit reporting system.
The Financial Services Royal Commission has recently heard evidence from a widow that the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) made a Determination that she should pay her deceased husband's business loans worth $226,000 over a period of 12 to 18 months.
The evidence was highlighted after the widow, Jennifer Low, was pursued by Suncorp for the repayment of business loans that were provided to her and her late husband after a workplace accident claimed Mr Low's life in 2016. It is understood that Ms Low approached the Consumer Action Law Centre for assistance when Ms Low proposed to pay off the outstanding debt over the loans original 17 year term with monthly repayments of $1,111 which was higher than the contractual repayment however FOS declined her proposal.
FOS found that it would be reasonable for Ms Low to repay the loan, interest free, within 12 to 18 months or a maximum of 5 years. During the hearing, Phillip Field, Lead Ombudsman for Banking and Finance was forced to explain his decision where he claimed that he did not want Ms Low to be still paying the debt in her 80's. Mr Field told the royal commission, "What I had in mind was that situation where you had somebody who was in their 60s paying it until they’re 80. And certainly, from my perspective, if a bank were to lend to somebody in that scenario, I would regard that as not reasonable." He went on to say in the witness box, "In hindsight, I don’t think that was the correct thing to do. I think I should have accepted that the [Consumer Action Law Centre] position was correct and then got on the phone to the bank then and there to try and resolve the matter. I should have said that… once the arrears were cleared on — and at the time of that call it was, but provided the arrears — any arrears on the interest-free loan were also cleared, then if she could make those payments, she was entitled to do so and it would be interest-free until it was paid off."
While the Low Family has not yet accepted Suncorp's offer to extend the repayment period to 5 years instead of 12-18 months, Mr Field said that he expects the bank to change their position and allow Ms Low to make monthly principal-only repayments for the duration of the loan as per her original proposal.
Source: mortgagebusiness - May 2018
The Australian Banking Association ("ABA") has recently announced the retail banks wishing to become members will now be required to sign up for the new Banking Code of Practice ("The Code").
The Code, which is currently awaiting approval by ASIC will be binding, enforceable by law and will be monitored by an independent body. The Code, which was originally introduced in 1993, requires retail banks to provide plain English contracts, stop unsolicited offers to raise credit limits, give customers the ability to end credit cards online and inform customers about service fees before they are incurred.
Regulating the Code will be the responsibility of the Banking Code of Compliance Committee ("BCCC") which will have the power to investigate breaches and apply sanctions. The move comes as the financial services industry tries to regain customer trust with the Financial Services Institute of Australasia ("FINSIA") calling for an industry-wide code to restore professionalism among its members as a way of winning back customer trust.
The ABA is looking to implement The Code within 12 months of approval being received from ASIC.
Source: Financial Standard - March 2018
A total of 278,683 Radio Rental leases that led to poor outcomes for consumers has resulted in ASIC pressuring parent company, Thorn Australia, to issue $19.9 million in refunds.
The action comes after ASIC filed proceedings in the Federal Court where ASIC proposed a $2 million penalty in addition to the $11.8 million the company has already refunded to affected consumers for not upholding responsible lending practices. A further $6.1 million will also need to be paid to cover refunds and defaults for 60,000 leases and potentially a further $200,000 more in costs to ASIC.
This is seperate to thet $50 million class action that was filed by law firm Maurice Blackburn in March 2017.
2 of the examples provided to the Federal Court of irresponsible lending include:
2 of the larger players in the 100% interest-free lines of credit, AfterPay and zipPay, have attracted the attention of Westpac with the bank warning their mortgage brokers that these payment schemes must be assessed as a liability when assessing a person's financial affairs.
AfterPay has more than 1.3 million customers in Australia and it's anticipated that annual sales will exceed $1.7 billion however a spokesperson for RateCity, Sally Tindall, said in a statement, “It’s easy credit for people who might not otherwise get a credit card and if you rack up a significant amount on these payments schemes it will have long-term repercussions if you can’t pay down the debt. The good thing is there are limits on AfterPay up to $1500 per transaction so there are sensible perimeters to help people pay it back, but if they put these payments on a credit card they can be hit by nasty interest rates.”
AfterPay Chief Executive, Nick Molner, said that a majority of their customers meet their repayments and pay-off their purchases without incurring any fees. He went on to say that 85% of AfterPay payments are made using a debit card and not a credit card.
Both AfterPay and zipPay offer customers the opportunity to order online or make a purchase in -store without providing any information regarding their financial position with charges only being incurred if the amount owing is not paid by the due date.
Every month the Reserve Bank of Australia ("RBA") releases a range of statistics for transactions incurred 2 months prior across a range of products.
These payment statistics offer an insight across several products including Credit and Charge Cards, ATM Cash Withdrawals, Debit Card Statistics, Cheque and Direct Entry Payments, etc
This month we've focused our attention on Credit and Charge Card statistics for the month of April 2017. The key points coming out of these statistics were as follows:
The number of credit and charge card accounts held by Australians
The number of credit and charge card purchase transactions
The value of credit and charge card purchase transactions
The total value of credit and charge card repayments
The total value of credit and charge card balances accruing interest
The value of credit and charge card total balances
The value of credit and charge card credit limits
The graph below shows a direct comparison to the same period last year:
While there were increases across all credit and charge card statistics overall all increases were less than 1%
The RBA indicated that approximately 2 million Australians fail to pay off their credit card balance in full each month. With the average credit card limit of $4,500 it would take 31 years in which to finalise the balance making minimum repayments only.