Managing debt

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Free advice

MoneyHelp website

For free information on managing bills and debt, your debt options and other tools and tips, visit the MoneyHelp website (a not-for-profit service supported by Consumer Affairs Victoria).

MoneySmart website

The Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) regulates consumer credit. A number of useful tools and resources to help you manage your finances can be found on its MoneySmart website.

ASIC’s MoneySmartRookie website includes specific information for consumers under 25 about managing money.

Dealing with debt collectors

If you owe money, creditors may try to collect the debt themselves or engage a debt collector to recover it from you. Creditors may also sell your debt to a debt collector.

Debt collectors must not engage in banned debt collection practices under Victorian law. They cannot engage in conduct such as:

  • undue harassment – for example, communicating with you in a way that is unreasonable in its frequency, nature or content
  • making threats – this includes exposing or threatening to expose you or a family member to ridicule or acts of intimidation
  • deception – for example, impersonating a government employee or agent, or using a document that looks like an official document but is not
  • misrepresentation – for example, making a false or misleading representation regarding the nature or extent of a debt, or the consequences of not paying a debt.

For a full list of banned practices in Victoria, view our Banned debt collection practices page.

Debt collectors are also banned from engaging in unfair practices under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).

If you believe the conduct is more serious or potentially criminal, such as threats of violence, contact Victoria Police.

The MoneyHelp and MoneySmart websites have important advice on how to deal with debt collectors. They outline practical steps you can take to dispute a debt and stop unfair debt collection practices.

The Consumer Action Law Centre (CALC), an advocacy organisation which receives funding from Consumer Affairs Victoria, also has relevant advice on its website, including what you should say and put in writing to a debt collector, and how to keep records of unfair practices. See the Related information links below.

If a debt collector persists in using banned debt collection practices, lodge a complaint with us. For more information, view our General complaint page

If you experience humiliation or distress as a result of unfair debt collection practices, you may also apply to a court or the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) for compensation. For more information, contact us or view CALC’s advice on seeking compensation from VCAT.

If you believe you do not owe the money being sought, you can also apply to VCAT for a declaration to that effect.

There are restrictions on who can operate as a debt collector in Victoria. View our information on prohibited persons/corporations on our Become a debt collector page.

Businesses using debt collectors

If you operate a business and seek to engage a debt collector to recover a debt owed to you, remember that criminal penalties may apply to you if you:

  • aid, abet, counsel or procure the commission of a criminal offence by a debt collector you hire
  • are knowingly concerned in any breach of the Australian Consumer Law by the debt collector.

For support agencies

Research and reports about credit and debt

Last updated: 06/09/2016

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