There are laws about the behaviour creditors and debt collectors can engage in when pursuing you for a debt.
Debt collectors must be licensed and they are not allowed to harass or threaten you. If the behaviour is serious and you feel you are being harassed or threatened you can make a report to Consumer and Business Services on 131 882 (who deal with licencing of debt collectors). You can also ring the Police Assistance line on 131 444
What a creditor/debt collector cannot do
- use abusive or threatening language
- threaten to have you sent to gaol for non-payment
- threaten to harm you or your property
- block access to your property
- enter into your property if you have refused permission, or fail to leave when you ask them to
- threaten to tell your employer, neighbours or family about your debt
- threaten to take and sell item/s of your property when they have no right to do so
- ring you frequently (e.g. four ior more times a week)
- ring you at unreasonable times (e.g. before 7.30 am or after 9.00 pm)
- visit you or ring you at your place of work if you have asked them not to and have provided an alternate contact address and phone number
- send you letters that look like court documents but are not
See Fair Trading Act 1987 s 43
See ASIC's MoneySmart information 'Dealing with debt collectors'.
Do I have to pay for debt collection fees?
Often creditors or debt collectors will try to include their costs in the amount being recovered. A creditor or debt collector can only claim debt collection fees from you where you have agreed to them specifically prior to entering into your contract. For example, where you have agreed that you will be liable for the cost of debt collection in the event of default. This is often the case with credit contracts.
If you are unsure as to whether you agreed to pay debt collection fees, seek legal advice.
A financial counsellor can help you with negotiations with creditors, and give you options regarding dealing with your debts. Their services are free. The National Debt Helpline number is 1800 007 007.
Debt collectors must be licensed and they are not allowed to harass or threaten you. If you feel you are being harassed or threatened you can make a report to Consumer and Business Services on 131 882 (who deal with licencing of debt collectors). As a last resort, assuming that there are threats of physical violence, you can also ring the Police Assistance line on 131 444.
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.