COVID -19 changes: Making repayment arrangements

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is a challenging time for everyone in Australia (and the world). This is a guide for making repayment arrangements if you have been financially impacted by the pandemic.

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On this page:

  • Six changes you need to know about

  • What do the changes mean?

  • When negotiating with your lender or creditor

  • If the lender or creditor will not agree to a repayment arrangement

  • Speak to one of our financial counsellors

 

Six changes you need to know about

  1. Many lenders have announced they will be flexible in making repayment arrangements. Banks and customer owned banks have both announced specific assistance measures for people with loans who may be experiencing financial hardship.
  2. Many other creditors are also flexible about making affordable repayment arrangements
  3. The flexibility means that you can negotiate repayment arrangements as well as reductions in fees and possibly interest
  4. Creditors are also more likely to limit or slow debt collection and enforcement action (including repossession) (although this is not guaranteed).
  5. The Government has introduced changes to limit the ability of creditors to force you into bankruptcy before 25 September 2020. See COVID 19 Bankruptcy.
  6. The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA), which is the free dispute resolution body, has a significant event hotline 1800 337 444 for individuals financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

 What do the changes mean?

It means that if you are struggling financially, you should contact your lender or creditor to make a repayment arrangement you can afford.

 

When negotiating with your lender/creditor

  • Tell your lender or creditor how you have been affected by the pandemic.
  • Tell your lender or creditor if you are receiving the JobSeeker payment or JobKeeper payment
  • Make a repayment arrangement you can afford.
  • Negotiate the highest repayments you can afford on your highest priority debts (home loan and utilities), so that you don’t fall too far behind
  • Defer or make lower payments on low priority debts (for example, credit cards) if you are in financial hardship and you need to pay higher priority debts

 

What to ask for when you negotiate a repayment arrangement

Try to negotiate the following as part of any agreed repayment arrangement:

  • Affordable repayments
  • Late fees and default/legal fees not to be charged
  • Extend the term of the loan (people usually do not exit financial hardship with money for higher repayments)
  • A reduction in the interest rate or a stop in interest charges for a length of time (this is more likely to work for credit cards)
  • Ask that your credit report is not affected and no default is listed while you keep to any agreed repayment arrangement
  • Do discuss that any repayment arrangement may need to be reviewed and extended as it is unknown when you can return to making the normal repayments (for example, because you are unemployed).

 

If your lender or creditor will not agree to a repayment arrangement

If your lender will not agree, you can have that decision reviewed in the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (for financial disputes). This is a free and independent dispute resolution service. You can contact AFCA on 1800 931 678.

If your creditor will not agree, call us for advice on 1800 007 007

 

Speak to one of our financial counsellors

If your problem still hasn’t been solved, or you’re feeling overwhelmed, call us on 1800 007 007 to speak with one of our financial counsellors.

 

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