On this page
Dealing with debt collectors
If you owe money, debt collectors generally have a right to seek repayment.
There are laws in place to protect you from being treated unfairly by debt collectors. Find out more about what debt collectors can and can't do.
Case study video
Watch the video on how to deal with debt collection to:
- check your rights when dealing with debt collectors
- find out where you can get help with debts.
The story, all names, characters, and incidents portrayed in this video are fictitious. No identification with actual persons (living or deceased), places, buildings, and products is intended or should be inferred.
Speak to the National Debt Helpline
Call the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007. Their professional financial counsellors provide free and confidential advice. The helpline is open from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm, Monday to Friday.
You can also visit the National Debt Helpline website. It has step-by-step guides explaining how to fix common debt problems. For example, what to do if you can’t pay your:
- energy bills
- internet or phone bills
- credit cards, or
- payday loans.
Getting advice on consolidating debt
Be cautious of debt consolidators who charge fees or get commission for their services. You can often get the same help for free.
ASIC's MoneySmart website provides information about managing debt. This includes how to:
- check your credit report to confirm the information is correct and fix any mistakes
- get help with a repayment plan if you’re struggling
- find free financial counselling services in your state or territory
- find free legal advice services in your state or territory.
Using a dispute resolution scheme
Many industries have their own ombudsmen dispute resolution schemes. Industries include:
If you complain directly to a business about a debt, but it doesn’t resolve your issue, then a dispute resolution scheme may be able to help you.
Legal proceedings against you usually can’t be started while a matter is with an ombudsman.
Finance, credit or loan debt
The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) is the dispute resolution scheme for financial complaints. You can contact AFCA if you are having a problem with debts relating to credit, finance or loans.
Phone or internet debt
You can contact the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman if you have a complaint about a phone or internet debt.
You can contact energy ombudsman schemes if you have a complaint about an energy debt. They are different in each state and territory—the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) has a list.
For some people in debt crisis, bankruptcy may be a last resort. Bankruptcy can have serious outcomes.
Before filing for bankruptcy, it’s very important that you get financial advice. You can get advice from a free and independent financial counsellor or a qualified financial adviser.
You can get more information about personal bankruptcy