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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.

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