If you’re experiencing financial hardship and struggling to pay off debt, it’s important to understand your rights. Knowing your rights can help you when you are talking with your creditors and looking at how to resolve your debt problems.
This page provides information about the key rights you have in some common debt situations, such as credit law, debt collection, utility bills and payday loans. As you browse through the pages on this website, you’ll see ‘know your rights’ sections at the bottom of some pages, that tell you more about your rights in specific debt situations.
While you have rights, it’s important to be aware that your creditors also have rights under the law. These rights allow your creditor to pursue you for money you owe them. Read more about creditors’ rights on the Debt collection page.
If your debt situation is complex, or you’re feeling overwhelmed, call us on 1800 007 007 to speak to a financial counsellor.
If you’d prefer to chat to a financial counsellor online, you can use our live chat service by clicking the chat icon in the bottom right corner of your screen.
Know your rights
You cannot be sent to prison because you cannot pay a debt (except for fines).
The credit law applies to loans and leases for personal purposes. It also applies to finance and mortgage brokers. Some of the important rights you have are:
- Disputes about your loan can be decided in free external dispute resolution
- A right to request financial hardship and have the decision reviewed and decided in external dispute resolution
- At least 30 days to fix a default on your loan
- Being given information about the terms of your loan and access to copies of loan documents and account statements on request
- Only provide you with credit that is “not unsuitable”. This means that the loan is affordable and it meets your needs.
The Australian Consumer Law and the ASIC Act requires that you’re treated in a fair and reasonable way when you owe a debt. The ACCC/ASIC Debt Collection Guideline is a practical guide to the legislation by the regulators on what can and can’t be done by creditors or debt collectors when collecting a debt. It covers your rights to:
- Be treated fairly and not be harassed or coerced
- Make reasonable repayment arrangements
- Only be contacted at reasonable times and not too often
You have the right to:
- Apply for and not be refused a reasonable repayment arrangement if you’re struggling to pay your bills
- Notice before disconnection
- Access to free external dispute resolution (in most cases)
Payday (short-term, or fast) lenders must not:
- Provide you with an ‘unsuitable’ loan (i.e. one you can’t afford to pay and/or doesn’t meet your needs)
- Take security for the loan
- Charge an amount above the interest/fees cap
You can also access free external dispute resolution.
For more information see the payday loans page