Appendix A: ACCC and ASIC—debt collection roles and contact details
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)
The ACCC is responsible for administering and enforcing Commonwealth consumer protection laws contained in the ACL that are relevant to debt collection activities. The ACCC is responsible for dealing with misconduct associated with debt collection activity when the debt relates to goods and services other than a financial service or product. This includes:
- telephone or other utility services
- services of trades and professional people
- when a retailer does not require immediate payment for a product (but not when the customer enters into a finance arrangement as that will be ASIC’s responsibility).
The ACCC’s responsibilities also include debts arising from a deferred payment (for example, a customer who is billed monthly or given an extension of time to pay).
Without limitation, the ACCC’s responsibilities cover any alleged:
- undue harassment
- unconscionable conduct regarding the collection of the debt
- unfair contract terms in a standard form consumer contract for the supply of non-financial goods or services and the sale or grant of an interest in land, and
- any misleading or deceptive representations made about the actual good or service, which is subject to the debt or the debt relating to goods and non-financial services.
ACCC contact details
For matters relating to the types of conduct described above, contact the ACCC:
ACCC Infocentre (business and consumer enquiries): 1300 302 502
Small business helpline: 1300 302 021
Callers who are deaf or have a hearing or speech impairment: Relay Service, 13 3677 for TTY users or 1300 303 609 for Speak and Listen
Address for written complaints:
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission
GPO Box 3131, Canberra ACT 2601
FAX: (02) 6243 1199
Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC)
ASIC is responsible for dealing with misconduct associated with debt collection activity when the debt relates to a financial product or service. This includes:
- credit card accounts
- home loans, personal loans and loans sourced through retailers for motor vehicles, household goods or other purposes
- fees for providing financial advice, insurance and other financial products and services.
ASIC’s responsibility covers any alleged undue harassment, coercion or unconscionable conduct regarding the collection of a debt and any misrepresentations made about a debt. It extends to a debt relating to a financial service which has been assigned or sold to a third party (for example a debt buy-out company).
If there is misleading or deceptive conduct relating to the actual good or service (such as the car or the appliance) and not the debt itself, this will be referred to the ACCC as it does not relate directly to a financial product or service.
ASIC contact details
For matters relating to the types of debt given above, contact ASIC:
ASIC’s Infoline: 1300 300 630
ASIC’s consumer website: MoneySmart
Dispute resolution schemes
While the ACCC and ASIC have the power to regulate conduct as outlined throughout this guideline, there are certain functions that the ACCC and ASIC cannot perform. For example, the ACCC and ASIC are unable to make judgments in a case, as that is the role of the court.
The ACCC and ASIC do not mediate between parties or perform other dispute resolution activities to resolve private disputes.
However, there are a range of agencies that can provide assistance with dispute resolution in certain industries, for example, banking and insurance, energy and water, or telecommunications. A selection of these agencies is provided below:
- Financial Ombudsman Service
- Credit and Investments Ombudsman
- Energy and water ombudsman schemes–the contact details for the relevant ombudsman in each state and territory
- Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman
The Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National) is an interpreting service provided by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and can assist agencies and businesses that need to communicate with people who do not speak English.
Immediate telephone interpreting can be undertaken by contacting 13 1450.