Complaints & disputes

If you’re in debt and can’t come to an appropriate and fair solution with your creditor, you have a right to complain and seek what we call ‘dispute resolution’.

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Dispute resolution is the process used to resolve disagreements between consumers and organisations.

There are two parts to the dispute resolution process:

  1. Internal Dispute Resolution, which refers to the organisation’s own internal process; and
  2. External Dispute Resolution, which is an independent service provided free of charge by an external scheme or ombudsman.

If you find yourself in dispute with your creditor, here are some steps you can take to address the issue.

Steps to take if you have a dispute


Lodge a complaint with your creditor (‘Internal Dispute Resolution’)

Get in touch with your creditor and inform them about the dispute you have. Clearly explain the problem you are facing and the solution you are seeking. It is helpful to provide any supporting documents or evidence that can support your case and clarify your position.

You don’t have to talk to a specific department, but it is helpful to talk to the ‘Internal Dispute Resolution (IDR)’ contact. You can find their contact information by asking your creditor directly, checking their website, or calling the External Dispute Resolution (EDR) scheme for that creditor (see the EDR table below).

If your dispute remains unresolved after 30 days then go on to Step 2.

If your creditor has already started court proceedings, go to Step 2 immediately.

You must lodge in external dispute resolution before the lender gets court judgment. The time you have to lodge a dispute varies, but the court documents will give you an indication.

If you are getting court notices or demands about a debt you owe, get legal advice immediately. You can get free and independent legal advice from consumer credit community legal services. To find your nearest service, check our page on Legal Advice.


Lodge a complaint with the External Dispute Resolution scheme (or ‘Ombudsman’)

If the creditor‘s response from Step 1-IDR is unsatisfactory or they fail to respond within the required timeframe, you can escalate the matter to an external dispute resolution (EDR) scheme, commonly known as the ‘Ombudsman’.

Ombudsmen schemes are very approachable and you can easily contact them to discuss your issue.

Once you have lodged your complaint with the Ombudsman, they will:

  1. Provide the creditor with an opportunity to respond to your complaint and propose a resolution.
  2. Facilitate negotiations between you and the creditor, including arranging a telephone conciliation if necessary.
  3. Investigate the complaint and make a recommendation if an agreement cannot be reached between you and the creditor.

If you and the creditor are still unable to reach a resolution, the Ombudsman will issue a formal order known as a ‘determination’ that outlines what actions should be taken. This represents the final stage and decision of the Ombudsman in your case.


Financial services (banks, lenders, debt collectors, brokers, insurers, financial planners, superannuation)




If you are unhappy with the Ombudsman’s decision

If you are dissatisfied with the decision made by the Ombudsman, you can:

  1. Go back to negotiating directly with your creditor.
  2. In limited cases you may have the option to appeal the Ombudsman decision.
  3. Take it to court or a tribunal.
  4. Get legal advice if you are considering option 2 or 3. There are community legal services that offer free legal advice across every state and territory in Australia. See our Legal Advice page for more information.



External Dispute Resolution (EDR) schemes can be very useful, especially since they’re a free service. Consider lodging a dispute if your creditor is a member of an EDR scheme.

  • You can lodge a dispute even if you are being sued in Court, as long as judgment has not been given.
  • All enforcement action stops while EDR considers your dispute.
  • The decision of the EDR scheme is binding on your creditor if you accept the decision.
  • If you do not accept the decision you can still go to court (subject to any time limits).
  • EDR schemes can decide on repayment arrangements where there is financial hardship.
  • By requesting an EDR scheme to assist in your dispute, you authorise them to disclose the details you have shared with your creditor. They may request additional information and conduct an investigation as they try to resolve the dispute in a way that both parties accept
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