Debt collection

Relationship with court debt recovery processes

Broadly, debts may be recovered either through the courts, or by using creditor or collection agency personnel to negotiate repayments.

Debt recovery through the courts is largely regulated by state and territory law and the procedural rules of the courts. The recovery process may include the repossession of assets, securities or other legal enforcement of security interests.

This guide is mainly concerned with non-court debt recovery processes and informal collection activities before a court action is commenced or after a court judgment.

Debtors’ responsibilities

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:

What this guideline does

This guideline:

  • explains the ACCC’s and ASIC’s views on the laws that they regulate
  • provides examples on how the law has been applied in particular cases and details of court outcomes
  • gives guidance on what you should and should not do if you wish to minimise the risk of breaching the Commonwealth consumer protection laws
  • notes other laws and regulations not regulated by the ACCC and ASIC that are relevant to debt collection.

Part 1: Using this guideline

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) have produced this guideline. The ACCC and ASIC enforce Commonwealth consumer protection laws, including laws relevant to debt collection. For more information about the responsibilities of each agency, see appendix A.

The terms ‘debt’ and ‘debtor’ are used in this guideline to include alleged debts and alleged debtors respectively (see the glossary in appendix C for more information on terms and phrases).

Important notice

This guideline is designed to give you basic information; it does not cover the whole of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth), the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act 2001 (Cth) or other relevant legislation and is not a substitute for professional advice.

Debt collection practices in Australia

This report summarises the major issues identified during information-gathering activities undertaken by both the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) in 2008.

Debt collection guideline for collectors & creditors

The ACCC and ASIC have jointly produced this guideline which aims to assist creditors, collectors and debtors understand their rights and obligations, and ensure that debt collection activity is undertaken in a way that is consistent with consumer protection laws.