Debt collection guideline: for collectors and creditors

Appendix C: Glossary

Agent: for the purposes of this guideline, a person who has the express, implied or ostensible authority to undertake collection activity on behalf of a creditor in circumstances where a debt has not been sold or assigned.

Assigned debt: for the purposes of this guideline, any debt which has been sold, assigned, or factored by a creditor, or for which a creditor has in any other way subrogated their rights as a creditor.

Assignee: for the purposes of this guideline, a person undertaking collection activity after the sale, assignment or factoring of a debt, or the subrogation of rights by a creditor to this person.

Authorised representative: a person such as a financial counsellor, solicitor, financial advisor, carer, trustee or guardian who has been authorised by the debtor to act on behalf of the debtor.

Bankrupt: a person who has been declared bankrupt under the provisions of the Bankruptcy Act 1966 and has not been discharged from the bankruptcy.

Debt collector: a person collecting a debt in the course of a business. It includes creditors, independent collection agencies, collections departments within businesses, debt buy-out companies, assignees, agents, lawyers, government bodies engaged in trade or commerce, and other persons117 collecting on behalf of others.

Communicate: unless otherwise specified, includes communication by telephone, mobile telephone, fax, email, letter, in writing via text message or online technology (such as social media channels), and in person.

Complaint: for the purposes of this guideline, this term is generally used for issues of collector or creditor conduct (as distinct from issues of debtor liability).

Credit listing: for the purposes of this guideline, the listing of an unpaid debt on a person’s credit report.

Creditor: a person to whom a debt is incurred. In this guideline, the term continues to apply to the person to whom the debt is incurred despite the sale, assignment, factoring or outsourcing of the debt.

Credit report: any record or information, whether in a written, oral or other form, that:

  • is being or has been prepared by a credit reporting agency
  • has any bearing on an individual’s:
    • eligibility to be provided with credit
    • history in relation to credit, or
    • capacity to repay credit
  • is used, has been used or has the capacity to be used for the purpose of serving as a factor in establishing an individual’s eligibility for credit.

Debt: an amount of money owed. For the purposes of this guideline, it includes an alleged debt.

Debtor: a natural person obligated or allegedly obligated to pay a debt.

Dispute: for the purposes of this guideline, this term is generally used in relation to issues of debtor liability (as distinct from issues of collector or creditor conduct: see ‘Complaint’).

Judgment debt118: means a debt confirmed by an order or judgment of a court.

Reasonableness: is assessed according to an objective standard, taking into account all relevant circumstances.

Security interest: an interest in or a power over goods or land (whether arising by or under an instrument or transaction or arising on the execution of a warrant issued under the relevant state or territory legislation) which secures payment of a debt.

Statute-barred debt: a debt for which the debtor is entitled to claim an absolute defence to legal proceedings to collect the debt due to the passage of time (as set out in the relevant statute of limitations).119

Third party: any person other than the debtor, but does not include a debtor’s legal representative, trustee, or other authorised representative. Nor does it include a related entity of the collector.

Undue harassment: refer to Prohibition of the use of physical force, undue harassment and coercion in part 3.

117 The CCA applies to corporations and individuals when they are acting as agents of a principal that is a corporation.

118 These may go by different names in different states. For example, in Queensland, judgment debts are referred to as Money Orders.

119 See State and territory limitation of actions laws in appendix B.