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Who Do Debt Collection Guidelines Apply To?

Monday, October 30, 2017 - Posted by Michael McCulloch

Originally released in October 2005, by the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission ("ACCC") and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission ("ASIC"), the Debt Collection Guidelines for Collectors and Creditors was jointly produced to ensure that debt collection activity is undertaken in a way that is consistent with consumer protection laws.

The guidelines apply to not only Mercantile Agents (debt collection agencies) and Commercial Agents (process servers, repossession agents, etc) but to anyone that is employed, directly or indirectly, by a business or individual to make a demand for payment of a debt. This includes collection officers, accounts receivables clerks and credit managers.

Page 1 of the guidelines state:

WHO IS THIS GUIDELINE FOR?

This guideline will help you to understand how the Commonwealth consumer protection laws apply to you if you are a:

  • Debt collector (including a debt collection agency, debt buy-out service, in-house collection department of a business or Government agency, Solicitor and other)
  • Creditor who uses external collection agencies to collect debts or sells or assigns debts to third parties

This guideline applies to both Creditors who are directly involved in debt collection and to specialist external agencies who provide debt collection services. When a Creditor uses an agent for collection, the Creditor (as principal) will generally be liable for their agent's conduct when that conduct comes within the agent's express, implied or ostensible authority.

Key points from the guideline include:

  • Clearly identifying yourself when making contact with a debtor
  • That you are entitled to make reasonable inquiries when a debtor advises he or she is not able to pay
  • That you should never disclose any information about the debtor or their debt to an unauthorised 3rd party
  • That telephone contact should be made during reasonable hours of the day (Monday to Friday - 7.30am to 9.00pm | Weekends - 9.00am to 9.00pm)
  • Avoiding contact with a debtor via a method that he or she has specifically requested not be used
  • That contact should be free of intimidation or humiliation
  • If a debtor has introduced a 3rd party representative that communication with this authorised representative should continue unless the 3rd party does not have instructions from the debtor or the 3rd party fails to respond to communications from you
  • Evidence of the debt should be presented upon request
  • That you must be cautious about making representations about the consequences of non-payment or the legal status of the debt

You can download a copy of the most recent via this link.

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