Harassment and coercion

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It is unlawful to use physical force, undue harassment or coercion in connection with the supply or possible supply of, or payment for, products or services (including an interest in land).

Undue harassment means unnecessary or excessive contact or communication with a person, to the point where that person feels intimidated, tired or demoralised.

Coercion involves force (actual or threatened) that restricts another person’s choice or freedom to act.

Unlike harassment, there is no requirement for behaviour to be repetitive in order to amount to coercion.

Debt collection agencies

Financial institutions are entitled to attempt to collect debts, but their conduct may be undue harassment or coercion when it involves frequent unwelcome approaches and requests or threats for payment. Laws relating to privacy, harassment and misleading or deceptive conduct apply to all businesses – including debt collection agencies.

Penalties

The maximum civil and criminal penalties for harassment and coercion are $1.1 million for a body corporate and $220,000 for an individual.

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