What the ACCC does

  • We help consumers and businesses understand their rights and responsibilities.
  • We investigate businesses where they might be breaking the law.

What the ACCC can't do

  • We don’t provide financial advice or counselling.

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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
    • mortgage
    • credit cards, or
    • payday loans.

    Speak to the Small Business Debt Helpline

    The Small Business Debt Helpline is a free service for small business owners.

    You can call the helpline on 1800 413 828 from 9:00 am to 5.30 pm AEST, Monday to Friday. A qualified financial counsellor will listen and provide free, independent and confidential advice. You can discuss things such as:

    • understanding business and personal debts
    • personal guarantees and their implications
    • grants and training available for small business owners
    • options for payment arrangements with creditors, suppliers and service providers
    • information about closing your business
    • where you can get dispute resolution
    • emotional support.

    Visit the Small Business Debt Helpline website for more information.

    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:

    Using a dispute resolution scheme

    Many industries have their own ombudsmen dispute resolution schemes. Industries include:

    • banking
    • telecommunications
    • energy
    • water
    • insurance.

    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.

    Energy 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.

    Bankruptcy

    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 from the MoneySmart website.

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