- Australia has new Credit Laws and National Consumer Credit Code and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) is now the national credit regulator.
More information on these changes
Where to lodge credit complaints
A national credit reform package came into force on 1 July 2010 replacing State-and Territory-based credit laws that had been in place since 1992.
The National Consumer Credit Code improves consumer protection and fosters more prudent lending conduct by introducing:
- Responsible lending conduct requirements to ensure consumers are not lured into credit contracts they cannot afford to repay;
- Extended hardship criteria, boosting the availability of relief to loans of up to $500,000;
- Provisions to stop predatory lenders from exploitative practices such as using household items as security for cash loans; and
- A single national licensing regime and consistent requirements across Australia for lenders and brokers.
A credit provider is any business that provides finance to purchase goods, services or land, or to lease goods.
If you buy a good, a service or land now and pay a charge for it later then you are being provided with credit.
If you pay a business for credit and use it mainly for personal, household or domestic purposes, you are covered by the National Consumer Credit Code.
Amongst other things, this means that banks, building societies, credit unions, finance companies and businesses must tell you what your rights and obligations are in any credit arrangement.
They are required by law to truthfully disclose all relevant information about your credit arrangement in a written contract. This includes interest rates, fees, commissions and other information which in the past was hidden.
Where you can lodge complaints:
The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) and the Credit Ombudsman Service Limited (COSL) and the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal (SCT) can each handle complaints about credit and finance providers, depending on the type of complaint. The scheme you need to contact for dispute resolution assistance will be the one your credit or finance provider has joined. Ask your provider or ring to ask the schemes.
If you're not sure which of these bodies to contact, you can ring or email ASIC's Infoline for advice:
Infoline: 1300 300 630 (local call rate)