Debt collection guideline: for collectors and creditors

What this guideline covers

Commonwealth consumer protection laws

This guideline explains the application of the following Commonwealth consumer protection laws, which are relevant to debt collection:

  • The Australian Consumer Law (ACL), which is a schedule to the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth) (CCA). The ACL is jointly enforced by the ACCC and state and territory consumer protection agencies
  • Part 2, Division 2 of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act 2001 (Cth) (ASIC Act), which is enforced by ASIC
  • National Consumer Credit Protection Act 2009 (Cth) (NCCP) which includes the National Credit Code (NCC) as Schedule 1 to the NCCP, which is enforced by ASIC.

Part 2 of this guideline provides practical guidance on what creditors and collectors should and should not do to minimise their risk of breaching the Commonwealth consumer protection laws that may apply when undertaking debt collection activities.

When seeking to recover a debt, part 3 of this guideline looks at the prohibitions and remedies against creditors or collectors who engage in:

  • the use of physical force, undue harassment or coercion
  • misleading or deceptive conduct
  • unconscionable conduct.

Part 3 of this guideline also contains information about the penalties that apply for contraventions of the Commonwealth consumer protection laws.

Other laws

This guideline also refers to other laws and regulations that are not enforced by the ACCC and ASIC, but which are relevant to debt collection. These laws include:

  • Commonwealth privacy laws, which are enforced by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC)
  • state and territory fair trading laws, which include conduct prohibitions mirroring those of the Commonwealth consumer protection laws and that are enforced by the state and territory consumer protection agencies
  • the Bankruptcy Act 1966 (Cth) (Bankruptcy Act), which is enforced by the Australian Financial Security Authority (AFSA, formerly the Insolvency and Trustee Service Australia (ITSA)).

Various other laws, regulations and industry codes are also referred to in passing throughout this guideline. For a non-exhaustive list of other applicable laws, see appendix B. Also see the comments under Relationship with court debt recovery processes in this guide.

Note: this guideline does not provide guidance on the law on mortgages and other securities or guarantees.

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