While this guideline focuses on the responsibilities of creditors and collectors, the ACCC and ASIC recognise that debtors have responsibilities too.
Debtors are legally responsible for paying the debts they legitimately owe. Where they owe the debt in question, debtors should:
- not attempt to avoid the obligation to satisfy debts they have incurred
- promptly contact creditors and debt collectors when they are experiencing financial difficulties and attempt to negotiate a variation in payments or other arrangement
- be candid about their financial position, including their other debts.
The ACCC and ASIC also recommend that debtors experiencing financial difficulties should seek the assistance of a financial counsellor, solicitor or other qualified adviser who may be able to help them with a debt negotiation.
The ACCC and ASIC have also produced guidance for debtors entitled Dealing with debt: your rights and responsibilities.
The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) has produced a consumer information factsheet, Energy bills, hardship programs and disconnection—your rights. This publication provides information on energy retailers’ responsibility to help customers who are having difficulty paying their bills and to inform them of their options. For a copy of this publication go to the AER website.