16th December 2014 – Financial Counselling Australia has welcomed ‘Dealing with debt collectors: Your rights and responsibilities’released by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission last week.

The overwhelming majority of consumers want to pay their debts, but unfortunately some people, often due to a change in circumstances or low income, struggle to do so. This group of people will inevitably come into contact with the debt collection industry.

It is therefore very important that consumers understand their rights and responsibilities.  The Guide has useful information about how to negotiate a repayment plan and what debt collectors can and cannot do.

The Guide also has information about how to contact a financial counsellor, explaining that a financial counsellor can provide information and support and may help negotiate with creditors.

“Financial counsellors will find that the Guide is a terrific resource to give to consumers”, said Fiona Guthrie, Executive Director, of FCA. “Many financial counselling clients can feel incredibly stressed by problems with debts. Talking to a financial counsellor and reading this Guide can help people understand their options in dealing with debt.”

Financial counsellors also recognise that the debt collection industry has come a long way in recent years. In fact, financial counsellors report that it can sometimes be easier to negotiate a sensible and affordable payment arrangement with a debt collector or debt buyer, than it is with the original creditor.

Although there are still instances of “old style” collection tactics, the industry as a whole is now far more sophisticated.  Consumers who are contacted by a debt collector should expect to be treated with respect and courtesy.

A copy of the new Guide is attached and is also available at this link.

Financial counsellors: community-based professionals providing information, support and advocacy for people in financial difficulty.

Anyone who is in financial difficulty can contact a free and independent financial counsellor on 1800 007 007 or visit www.debtselfhelp.org.au

For comment please contact:  Fiona Guthrie 0402 426 835