Debt collection

ACCC takes action against debt collection firm ACM Group Ltd

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.

ACCC report on debt collection industry reveals improvements but warns against non-compliance

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.

Research into the Australian debt collection industry

This report examines the debt collection industry in Australia. It aims to provide greater understanding of the industry and to identify structural issues or operational practices that may lead to problematic behaviours within the sector.

Dealing with debt collectors: your rights & responsibilities

This consumer brochure will help people who are currently dealing with debt problems, or being contacted by debt collectors.

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.

Appendix A: ACCC and ASIC—debt collection roles and contact details

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)

The ACCC is responsible for administering and enforcing Commonwealth consumer protection laws contained in the ACL that are relevant to debt collection activities. The ACCC is responsible for dealing with misconduct associated with debt collection activity when the debt relates to goods and services other than a financial service or product. This includes:

Enforcement and remedies for breaching Commonwealth consumer protection laws

Infringement notices

ASIC or the ACCC may issue an infringement notice95 where there are reasonable grounds to believe that there has been a contravention of the ASIC Act and the ACL, such as those dealing with false or misleading representations, harassment or coercion and unconscionable conduct. Infringement notices can also be issued for certain unfair practices and offences under the NCCP.

Prohibition of unconscionable conduct

Conduct may be unconscionable if it is particularly harsh or oppressive. It is behaviour that is substantially more than just hard commercial bargaining. The relationship or dealings between a creditor or collector and a debtor is one that could assume characteristics of unconscionable conduct. This is because the collector is often in a position of strength and can exert pressure or unfair tactics over a debtor.