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Debt collection




What are ASIC's and the ACCC's responsibilities for debt collection?
Debt collection guidelines for collectors and creditors
Debt collection: consumers' rights and responsibilities
Collecting statute-barred debts


What are ASIC's and the ACCC's responsibilities for debt collection?


In March 2002, as part of the Financial Services Reform Act 2001 reforms, the Government extended ASIC's consumer protection powers in relation to the regulation of financial services and products to include credit. Since that date, ASIC and the ACCC have been jointly responsible for administering consumer protection legislation in relation to the debt collection industry.

As a general guide, ASIC's jurisdiction covers situations in which the underlying debt relates to the provision of a financial service, including a credit facility. Debts in relation to the provision of goods and services other than financial services will fall within the jurisdiction of the ACCC.

For a detailed explanation about the respective jurisdictions of ASIC and the ACCC in relation to debt collection, download a copy of our joint publication Complaints about debt collection activity – the responsibilities of Commonwealth agencies (PDF file, 663 KB)

For more information see Media release 04-364


Debt collection guidelines for collectors and creditors


ASIC and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) released their Debt collection guideline for collectors and creditors in October 2005. It reflects their views of how relevant provisions of the Trade Practices Act and the ASIC Act apply to debt collection conduct and replaces the ACCC’s publication Debt collection and the Trade Practices Act. The new guideline was developed in consultation with industry and consumer representatives to provide useful guidance on appropriate conduct to anyone involved in debt collection.

Download a copy of the guideline for collectors and creditors More information

Debt collection: consumers' rights and responsibilities


For help download the 'Can't pay your debts' factsheet and the 'Credit, loans and debt' booklet from MoneySmart: Publications. You can also order a copy to receive in the mail from this page.

You can also read a speech by Professor Berna Collier, ASIC Commissioner at the launch of the ASIC-ACCC debt collection publications at the Australian Institute of Credit Management National Conference, Gold Coast, 14 October 2005.


Collecting statute-barred debts


The debt collection industry needs to review its practices in relation to old debts, where the legal limitation period has expired, according to a report released by ASIC in September 2005 .

The ASIC report, Collecting statute-barred debts, found that debt collectors making demands for payment of old debts need to do more to avoid the risk of misleading and deceptive conduct, unconscionable conduct and undue harassment.

Statute-barred debts are debts on which the legal limitation period has expired. The limitation period is set under state law and there is some variation across states. The period is usually six years after the debtor defaults on regular payment obligations under the contract, but it can be revived by subsequent payment or acknowledgement of the debt. Where a debt is statute-barred, the debtor can raise that fact as a complete defence in any legal proceedings for recovery.

Download a copy of the report (PDF file 142 KB) | Read the media release


More information


Go to the website of the ACCC for more information about debt collection practices
More information about ASIC's credit jurisdiction

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