A debt collector should only contact a debtor for a reasonable purpose and only when necessary. Certain behaviour is illegal.
The ACCC has authorised Honeysuckle Health and nib Health Funds (ASX: NHF) to form and operate a health services buying group.
The authorisation has been granted with a condition that major insurers Medibank, Bupa, HCF and HBF in Western Australia not be allowed to join the buying group. The ACCC has also only granted authorisation for five years, rather than the 10 years sought by Honeysuckle Health and nib, to facilitate a review of the effects of the authorisation at an earlier time, if reauthorisation is sought.
The ACCC has instituted proceedings against debt collection agency Panthera Finance Pty Ltd alleging it unduly harassed three consumers over debts they did not owe.
The ACCC alleges that Panthera repeatedly contacted the three consumers for the payment of the disputed debts despite being advised that they were not liable for the debts, and in two cases placed an incorrect default listing on the consumers’ credit rating files. It also allegedly imposed onerous requirements on these consumers to “prove” they didn’t owe the debts which Panthera was trying to collect.
The Federal Court has found one of Australia’s largest debt collection firms, ACM Group Ltd, engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct, harassment and coercion, and unconscionable conduct in its dealings with two vulnerable consumers.
ACM’s conduct was found to be in contravention of the Australian Consumer Law.
The ACCC brought the action against ACM in respect of its conduct between 2011 and 2015 in pursuing two vulnerable customers who had defaulted on their phone bills. Their debts had been on-sold by their service provider to ACM for debt recovery.
Update: this release has been edited to more clearly identify the ACCC has made allegations against ACM Group Ltd (ACN 127 181 097).
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has commenced proceedings in the Federal Court against debt collection firm ACM Group Ltd (ACN 127 181 097) (ACM Group). ACM Group purchases debts from companies, including telecommunications companies, utility companies and banks, and then attempts to recover all or part of the debt.
A report released today by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and its Consumer Consultative Committee has found that there have been improvements in debt collection practices across Australia but that problem areas remain.
With over 500 businesses offering some form of debt collection service in Australia and collectors making up to 65 million contact attempts each year, the report reveals the scale and breadth of the industry which affects many Australian consumers.