Dealing with Debt Collectors

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Debt collectors 

Debt Collectors work to collect debts on the behalf of business and government. Debt collectors include organisations that are collecting debt on behalf of organisations money is owed to after a service has been set up or organisations that have bought the debt from another organisation and will retain all money collected. Irrespective of the type of debt collector, you have protections under consumer law and privacy codes. For individuals experiencing identity theft, debt collection notices may be the first sign that an identity has been misused to obtain a line of credit. 

Debt Collection and Your Rights 

Generally speaking, under Australian and New Zealand debt collectors cannot: 

  • Use physical force, or coercion. 
  • Harass you unreasonably for payment. 
  • Mislead or deceive you. 
  • Take unfair advantage of any vulnerability, disability, or other similar circumstances that may affect you. 

This applies to yourself, your spouse, your family, or others who may be connected to you. If a debt collector mistreats you, you can make a formal complaint the relevant authority (Aust is ACCC and NZ is Consumer Protection). 

Being Contacted About a Debt Collector 

If the debt is legal and reasonable, a debt collector should only contact you when it is necessary to do so. Reasons may include: 

  • Making demands for payment. 
  • Making arrangements for payments. 
  • Discussing why a repayment plan has not been fulfilled. 
  • Reviewing a repayment plan. 
  • Inspecting or recovering mortgaged goods. 

Visits to your home will only ever happen if there is no other way the debt collector can contact you, or if you ask or agree to a home visit. If poor conduct occurs that results in assaults or threats of violence, then the collector should be reported to immediately. 

Debt Collectors and Identity Theft 

Seven steps are key when you suspect a debt collection is a sign that your identity has been misused by someone to obtain credit in your name without repayment: 

  • ‍Lodge a dispute with the debt collector and confirm in writing the name and nature of the original credit provider (such as the telecommunications carrier or bank). 
  • Lodge a complaint with the original credit provider and request that the debt be investigated, including what specific 
  • ‍It is important to consider requesting that your credit report also be corrected by the credit provider and that they provide written confirmation of this and a relevant case number. 
  • Request credit reports from the three major credit reporting agencies (see our Credit Reporting Agencies Fact Sheet) to keep track of your finances, as there is a chance that other misuse may have occurred. 
  • Consider requesting credit bans to stop future misuse of your credit. For more information see our Credit Bans Fact Sheet
  • Contact IDCARE to discuss your options and develop a tailored response plan. 
  • Consider reporting the matter to your local police or to ACORN. 

Identity Care Australia & New Zealand Ltd (IDCARE) provides identity and cyber security incident response services (the Services) in accordance with the following disclaimer of service:

IDCARE is Australia and New Zealand’s national identity and cyber incident community support service. We are a not-for-profit charity.

  • The Services provide do not constitute legal advice. IDCARE recommends that you consult a solicitor in relation to your legal rights and obligations, including but not limited to your legal rights or obligations under Australian and international privacy and data protection laws.
  • While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information in this product or service, to the maximum extent permitted by law all conditions, terms, representations, and warranties (in each case, whether express or implied) in connection with the provision of the Services which might otherwise be binding upon IDCARE are excluded.
  • IDCARE’S liability for any loss or damage suffered by any person or organisation (including, without limitation, any direct, indirect or consequential loss or damage) arising out of or in connection with the Services (including without limitation liability for any negligent act or omission, or statement, representation or misrepresentation of any officers, employees, agents, contractors or consultants of IDCARE) shall be limited to the fees paid by you to IDCARE in respect of the Services. For the avoidance of doubt, this limitation of liability extends to any liability arising from any actions performed or not performed as a result of any recommendations made in course of providing the Services.
  • The Services provided by IDCARE are intended to be provided solely to the initial recipient of this document or service and IDCARE will not be liable to any other person who may receive this document.

While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information in this alert, IDCARE disclaims any liability to any person in respect to any actions performed or not performed as a result of the contents of the the Services or any accompanying data provided. Wider dissemination may be permitted by authority in writing from IDCARE’s Managing Director. If you would like to provide feedback please use our Feedback Form.

Other fact sheets

Our Fact Sheets offer important information on how to prepare, prevent, detect and respond to Identity theft and other cyber related issues.
Credit Reports - Australia

A credit report is a point in time snapshot of what credit related transactions you have made.

view fact sheet
Remote Access Scam

Have you had a call from someone who asked you to download and install programs to your device recently?

view fact sheet
SMS Scam Purporting to be Australia Post or another provider

SMS Scam purporting to be Australia Post or another provider

view fact sheet


IDCARE is here to provide you with specialist support and guidance when faced with a cyber and identity related issue. Contact one of our Identity & Cyber Security Case Managers to learn more about our Support Services and how we can help you.   

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