Commissioner's blog: Fix debt for free
Owing money and missing repayments can be stressful, so the last thing many people in financial difficulty need is to be charged more money for help getting their debt under control.
That’s why Consumer Protection urges consumers to choose free debt management advice where possible over other high-cost options.
While debt management service companies may claim to be able to fix debt problems, these businesses charge fees and may not always be able to resolve the issues.
Some consumers have reported signing contracts and then discovering a caveat has been put on their home.
In a move designed to help protect consumers, all debt management firms will be required to hold a credit licence for the first time from 1 July 2021.
While this reform to Australia’s consumer credit laws is an important step, consumers need to know that they can often get this type of assistance for free.
Financial counsellors provide free debt advice and negotiate with telcos and utility companies to pay in instalments or defer payments, while community legal centres can offer free legal help to those in need.
Whatever your situation, if you are struggling to repay your debts then don’t be embarrassed to seek help from free services to work through your options and understand what can and can’t be fixed.
Contact details for your nearest financial counsellor can be found on the Financial Counsellors Association WA website – www.financialcounsellors.org/find-a-financial-counsellor/, or contact Consumer Credit Legal Service WA for advice: www.cclswa.org.au
The National Debt Helpline at www.ndh.org.au is another good place to help you get started managing your debt, while complaints about debt management service providers should be directed to the Australian Financial Complaints Authority: www.afca.org.au
When it comes to borrowing money for essential items, people on low-incomes can access quick No Interest Loans that are more affordable than payday loans which charge interest. Visit WA NILS for further information: www.wanils.com.au
Commissioner for Consumer Protection
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