Debt collection guideline: for collectors and creditors

10. Record keeping

  1. You should ensure:
    • you maintain accurate, complete and up-to-date records of all communications with debtors, including the time, date and nature of calls about the debt, records of any visits in person, and records of all correspondence sent
    • all payments made are accurately recorded (including details of date, amount and payment method)
    • you provide documents to which the debtor is entitled on the debtor’s request.
  2. Accurate record keeping by all parties is vital to promptly resolve disputes and to allow collectors and debtors to limit or avoid costly debt collection activity.

Example: Record of attempted and actual contacts

If you maintain accurate records (for example, call logs or notes of contact and copies of all correspondence with the debtor), then it may be easier to identify any issues and to resolve disputes.

  1. Accurate record keeping will also assist to determine whether a debt is statute-barred by making it easier for you to identify and calculate relevant dates to determine the limitation period. See part 2, section 20, Representations about the legal status of debt—including statute-barred debt.

Example: Record of payments

If you accurately record all payments in relation to a debt then it will be much easier for you to accurately identify when the debtor’s last payment was made.

  1. Creditors should ensure:
    • debt collectors are provided with accurate, up-to-date information about assigned or contracted debts40
    • retained information and documentation can be accessed and forwarded to collectors in a prompt and efficient manner
    • settled debts are not assigned or contracted out for collection.

Recording debt settlements

  1. You should ensure that:
    • settlements reached in relation to the repayment of a debt are fully documented in relevant files and computer systems
    • before tranches of debts are assigned, sold or contracted out for collection, all reasonable steps are taken to ensure settled debts are not included.
  2. Once a debt is settled, any credit reporting body report on the debtor should be updated appropriately.41

40 Note, however, that there are limits on information mercantile agents are permitted to receive from credit providers under Part IIIA of the Privacy Act. More generally on privacy issues: see part 2, section 8, Privacy obligations to the debtor and third parties.

41 More generally on credit reporting, see part 2, section 8, Privacy obligations to the debtor and third parties.