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Debt Collection News

Released every month our debt collection blog contains news, stories and tips to keep you informed.

Is It Time To Review Your PPSR Registrations?

Tuesday, October 30, 2018 - Posted by Michael McCulloch

Do you know when your interest on the Personal Property Securities Register (PPSR) is due to expire?

It can be one of the more challenging things that we come across in the debt collection industry. A customer has relocated several times over a number of years however the debt is believed to be secured by an asset which, if repossessed, may finalise the debt or may entice the debtor to enter into a repayment arrangement which is maintained. Upon conducting a search of the PPSR it's then found that the security interest has lapsed. You now have essentially an unsecured debt with very little or no bargaining power.

While many organations used to employ a specialists securities agents this role has gradually been phased out and is now considered a day-to-day role of administration staff who may or may not keep an accurate register and may not know or realise the implications of the interest lapsing especially where a debt has been written-off. If this sounds familiar did you know that if you have a PPSR login that you can generate a report called Registrations Due to Expire?

The report includes information such as:

  • the SPG (Secured Party Group Number);
  • registration number;
  • end date and time of the security interest;
  • collateral type;
  • collateral class;
  • serial number and serial number type; and
  • details of the Grantor

The Registrations Due to Expire Report may be an invaluable report to you to keep track of your interests on the PPSR with reports being available to download in CSV or XML format.

ASIC Approves ABA Code of Practice

Thursday, August 30, 2018 - Posted by Michael McCulloch

In our April 2018 edition of Debt Collection News we reported that the ABA announced a new Banking Code of Practice which was subject to approval by ASIC.

ASIC has now signed off on the new Banking Code of Practice following an independent review and extensive consultation with the ABA.

The new Code provides for increased protections for small business borrowers and expands the reach and impact of legal protections against unfair contract terms. Expanded protections for consumers included:

  • provisions for inclusive and accessible banking;
  • protections relating to the sale of Consumer Credit Insurance (CCI) included a deferred sales period of 4 days for CCI for credit cards and personal loans sold in branches and over the phone;
  • protections for Guarantors giving them generally 3 days to consider information about any guarantee they provide and requiring banks to only enforce a guarantee once action has been taken against the borrower;
  • rules regarding credit card customers to receive reminders about balance transfer promotional periods ending as well as more consistent treatment about how repayments are applied; and
  • enhanced processes for assisting customers in financial difficulty and processes for resolving complaints.

All ABA member banks will be required to subscribe to the Code as a condition of their ABA membership and the relevant protections in the Code will form of the banks' contractual relationship with their banking customers.

The Code will commence operation from July 2019.

Source: Money | Management - July 2018

Attorney General Reviews Consumer Credit Reporting and Hardship

Thursday, June 28, 2018 - Posted by Michael McCulloch

The Attorney Generals Department has recently released a discussion paper regarding the relationship between consumer credit reporting and hardship.

The purpose of the paper is to examine whether hardship is currently treated adequately under the credit reporting provisions in Part IIIA of the Privacy Act, whether there are opportunities for reform and if so what reforms are appropriate.

The Attorney Generals Department did stress that the paper is not a general review of repayment history information in the consumer credit reporting system.

Source: Attorney General's Department - April 2018

ABA Announces New Banking Code of Practice

Friday, April 27, 2018 - Posted by Michael McCulloch

The Australian Banking Association ("ABA") has recently announced the retail banks wishing to become members will now be required to sign up for the new Banking Code of Practice ("The Code").

The Code, which is currently awaiting approval by ASIC will be binding, enforceable by law and will be monitored by an independent body. The Code, which was originally introduced in 1993, requires retail banks to provide plain English contracts, stop unsolicited offers to raise credit limits, give customers the ability to end credit cards online and inform customers about service fees before they are incurred.

Regulating the Code will be the responsibility of the Banking Code of Compliance Committee ("BCCC") which will have the power to investigate breaches and apply sanctions. The move comes as the financial services industry tries to regain customer trust with the Financial Services Institute of Australasia ("FINSIA") calling for an industry-wide code to restore professionalism among its members as a way of winning back customer trust.

The ABA is looking to implement The Code within 12 months of approval being received from ASIC.

Source: Financial Standard - March 2018

Banks Agree to Eliminate Unfair Contract Terms

Thursday, September 28, 2017 - Posted by Michael McCulloch

In our March 2017 edition we released a blog article Bank Lenders Must Meet Unfair Contract Laws.

The Australian Securities & Investments Commission ("ASIC") have now reported by media release on Thursday, 24 August 2017 that National Australia Bank, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Australian and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) and Westpac Banking Corporation have now agreed to specific changes to eliminate unfair terms from their Contracts.

The changes mean that:

  • The loan documents will not contain 'entire agreement clauses' that absolve the bank from responsibility for conduct, statements or representations they make to borrowers outside the written contract.
  • The operation of the banks' indemnification clauses will be significantly limited. For example, the banks will now not be able to require their small business customers to cover losses, costs and expenses incurred due to the fraud, negligence or wilful misconduct of the bank, its employees or a receiver appointed by the bank.
  • Clauses which gave banks the power to call in a default for an unspecified negative change in the circumstances of the small business customer (known as 'material adverse change event' clauses) have been removed – so that the banks will now not have the power to terminate the loan for an unspecified negative change in the circumstances of the customer.
  • Banks have restricted their ability to vary contracts to specific circumstances, and where such a variation would cause a customer to want to exit the contract, the banks will provide a period of between 30 and 90 days for the consumer to do so.

The banks have agreed that any customer who entered into a Contract from November 2016 will be protected by the changes introduced by ASIC with ASIC also indicating that they will conduct regular audits to ensure compliance.

In a statement to the media ASIC Deputy Chair, Peter Kell, said, "ASIC welcomes the significant improvements made by the banks to their small business lending agreements. The improvements have raised small business lending standards and provide important protections for small business customers. ASIC will be following up with other lenders to ensure that their small business contracts do not contain unfair terms, and we will continue to work with the ASBFEO on these issues".

At this point in time ASIC have indicated that they will also conduct a further review in the coming months so that other lenders to small business can consider their position and whether changes to their Contracts may be required in the near future.

Credit and Charge Card Statistics April 2017

Thursday, June 29, 2017 - Posted by Michael McCulloch

Every month the Reserve Bank of Australia ("RBA") releases a range of statistics for transactions incurred 2 months prior across a range of products.

These payment statistics offer an insight across several products including Credit and Charge Cards, ATM Cash Withdrawals, Debit Card Statistics, Cheque and Direct Entry Payments, etc

This month we've focused our attention on Credit and Charge Card statistics for the month of April 2017. The key points coming out of these statistics were as follows:

The number of credit and charge card accounts held by Australians

The number of credit and charge card purchase transactions

The value of credit and charge card purchase transactions

The total value of credit and charge card repayments

The total value of credit and charge card balances accruing interest

The value of credit and charge card total balances

The value of credit and charge card credit limits

The graph below shows a direct comparison to the same period last year:

While there were increases across all credit and charge card statistics overall all increases were less than 1% 

The RBA indicated that approximately 2 million Australians fail to pay off their credit card balance in full each month.  With the average credit card limit of $4,500 it would take 31 years in which to finalise the balance making minimum repayments only.

Source: Reserve Bank of Australia - Payments Data

Personal Debt in Australia 4th Highest in the World

Thursday, June 29, 2017 - Posted by Michael McCulloch

Household debt in Australia has steadily risen in the last 30 years as more Australians aim to own their own homes and continue to rely on credit such as personal loans and credit cards.

According to data released by the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development ("OECD") household debt to income in Australia has more than doubled between 1995 and 2015 going from 104% to 212%. Based on the average Australian wage of $78,832 this means that Australians are now spending $167,000 per year.

Internationally, since the 2008 global financial crisis, many developed countries actually saw deceases in household debt however Australian debt levels continued to increase with Australia placing 4th overall in household debt behind Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway.

With total personal debt now approximately $2 trillion this debt can be broken down into several categories:

Mortgage Debt
The Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that mortgages make up 56.3% of personal debt in Australia.

Investor Debt
This is debt associated with investments such as rental properties or shares and makes up 36.5% of household debt.

Personal Debt
Personal loans currently make up 3.1% of Australian household debt and generally relate to motor vehicle purchases, debt consolidation, household goods purchases and holidays.

Student Debt
Student debt, particularly from HELP Loans make up 2.1% of Australian household debt. The National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling ("NATSEM") did note however that this figure reflects the time it takes in which for student debt to be paid.

Credit Card Debt
While historically reports have indicated that credit card debt is out of control in Australia, credit card debt currently represents only 1.9% of total household debt.

Australia's Personal Debt

While the data released by OECD paints a dire national and global picture it should be noted that these figures don't necessarily impact us on an individual level as some households will generally have higher levels of debt and debt stress whereas others will have less.

It should also be noted that while our own personal debt may be among the highest when compared to GDP the majority of this debt, 92.8%, is from home loans and investments meaning that this debt is effectively a way in which to potentially build future wealth.

Source: NATSEM - Income and Wealth Report Issue 38
Source: OECD - Economic Survey of Australia
Source: Living in Australia - Average Salary Australia

Bank Lenders Must Meet Unfair Contract Laws

Thursday, March 23, 2017 - Posted by Michael McCulloch

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission ("ASIC") and the Australian Small Business & Family Enterprise Ombudsman ("ASBFEO") have recently met to discuss unfair Contract laws.

The review of small business loan contracts offered by Australia's big 4 banks were found to not meet their new obligations under unfair Contract Terms ("UCT") legislation depsite being provided with a 1 year transition period ahead of the November 2016 implementation deadline.

Both ASIC and the ASBFEO have advised that lenders need to take immediate steps to ensure compliance with the new legislation and must immediately:

  • Prohibit non-monetary default clauses where the borrower is meeting their Contractual obligations;
  • Provide at least 90 days notice where a loan facility will not be extended; and
  • Provide more comprehensive access to external dispute resolution schemes.

ASIC Deputy Chair, Peter Kell, said in a statement, "ASIC is committed to ensuring the UCT provisions help to raise small business lending standards. Where we identify a potentially unfair term we will work with the lender to remove or amend the term, and we have already started to raise these issues with lenders. If the lender refuses to do so we will consider all regulatory options, including taking the matter to court as ultimately a court can decide whether or not a term is unfair.”

Kate Carnell of the ASBFEO said in a statement, “I’m firmly of the belief that the loan contract terms as they currently stand, fail to comply with the UCT law. Once again, repeated calls for the banks to amend their practices are falling on deaf ears, despite inquiry after inquiry highlighting major flaws in the way they treat their small business customers.”

Read a copy of the ASIC Information Sheet 211 Unfair contract term protections for small businesses (INFO 211).

Alternatively read a copy of the amendments to the Australian Securities and Investments Comission Act 2001 via the Treasury Legislation Amendment (Small Business and Unfair Contract Terms) Act 2015 (no. 147, 2015) – Schedule 1 – Amendments here.

Please Provide Your Feedback Into an LCollect Website Redesign

Wednesday, November 23, 2016 - Posted by Michael McCulloch

As part of our continuing commitment to improvement and innovation we are currently in the process of redesigning the LCollect website. Our current site will remain live during this period with no service interruptions.

As the day-to-day users of our website we are seeking your feedback about what we currently do well on our website, what we need to improve and what you would like to see when you visit our site.

You can complete our feedback survey here.

Alternatively please contact us and let us know your thoughts.

CIO Warns Against Tribunal

Thursday, September 29, 2016 - Posted by Michael McCulloch

Raj Venga, CEO of the Credit and Investments Ombudsman ("CIO") has expressed concern about a proposal by the Federal Government to establish a tribunal to hear complaints about financial service providers.

In a Statement Mr Venga said, "Australia is currently very well served by the existing dispute resolution architecture in financial services. The types of disputes referred to in the current debate about the need for a new body generally involve amounts that exceed the monetary limits of CIO and the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS), and so have not been able to be considered by either scheme".

Mr Venga pointed out that any such tribunal would:

• Create a tax-payer funded right of appeal to the courts, defeating the objective to resolve disputes fairly, cheaply and expeditiously,
• Not have the multiplicity of access points for industry and consumer representation that the current structure affords,
• Not have specialised industry knowledge required for the sensible resolution of disputes,
• Be substantially more inflexible, and
• Not be capable of responding quickly to changes in relevant markets.

Time will only tell at this stage if this is the beginning of the end for External Dispute Resolution ("EDR") however we will continue to monitor the progress of any such move to abolish the EDR process.

Source: CIO Media Release August 2016

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