Information about working as a debt collector
Debt collection is a legitimate and necessary business activity that involves recovering payment from consumers for outstanding debts they are legally obliged to pay.
Licensing Advice Line 1300 30 40 64
A debt collector is a person who, on behalf of another person, collects or requests payment of debts.
Debt collectors operating in Western Australia must be licensed under the Debt Collectors Licensing Act 1964. This Act sets out licensing requirements and regulates the management of trust accounts.
Consumer Protection has developed a guide designed to assist Debt collectors in establishing and maintaining trust accounts, available here.For information on the licensing process and for application forms, refer to Licensing.
Laws regulating the conduct of debt collectors towards debtors
The conduct of debt collectors towards debtors (people obligated or allegedly obligated to pay a debt) is covered by provisions in a number of consumer protection laws including:
- the Fair Trading Act 2010 (administered by Consumer Protection);
- the National Credit Code (administered by ASIC);
- the Privacy Act 1988 (Commonwealth legislation);
- the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (previously the Trade Practices Act 1974, (administered by the ACCC); and
- the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act 2001 (administered by ASIC).
The joint ACCC-ASIC publication Debt Collection Guideline: for collectors and creditors sets out what debt collectors should and should not do to avoid breaching these laws, other related legislation and mandatory codes. For a concise summary of the information in this publication, refer to Conduct.
Other laws that apply to debt collectors in Western Australia
Fair Trading Act 2010
This Act incorporates the Australian Consumer Law and is based on the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cwlth) (previously the Trade Practices Act 1974 (Cwlth)) and mirrors its misconduct prohibitions and enacts the provisions of the national consumer law into Western Australia. Aside from those sections relating to the conduct of debt collectors detailed on the Conduct page, this Act bans the design of collection letters of demand so that they resemble court documents.
Limitation Act 1935.
This Act concerns limitation periods on debt recovery actions. It prevents a creditor from recovering payment for a debt if the limitation period has expired. The limitation period is generally six years.
National Consumer Credit Protection Act 2009 incorporating the National Credit Code (the principal vehicle that regulates consumer credit transactions in Australia).
This Code contains provisions for debtors' access to account information and documents; varying repayment schedules on the grounds of temporary hardship; and enforcement of credit contracts, mortgages and guarantees.
Privacy Act 1988 (administered by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner)
Part IIIA of this Act regulates the collection, use and disclosure of personal information. It requires businesses to keep accurate, complete and up-to-date records and to give debtors access to the information held about them on request.
Bankruptcy Act 1966 (administered by the Insolvency and Trustee Service Australia)
Under this Act, 'provable' debts of a bankrupt debtor are dismissed. Most unsecured debts are classed as provable. To settle provable debts, a collector must follow the scheme of administration under the Act.