Learn more about debt collection, what you can do if you're credit listed and how we can help.
One of the ways that many utility providers attempt to recover overdue accounts is by using a debt collector. If they are unsuccessful in getting the money, some suppliers will list the customer with a credit-reporting agency. Suppliers are required to notify customers if this occurs.
In many cases customers have moved address and are not aware that their debt has been listed with one of these agencies. It is only when the customer applies for consumer credit such as a loan, credit card or mobile phone, and it is declined, that they discover their details are with one of these agencies.
If you are listed with a credit reporting agency you can request a copy of your credit report directly from the agency. Individuals are entitled to a free credit report every 12 months, but in some instances the agency may charge a fee to obtain a copy. It usually takes around ten working days for the report to be sent.
If the information in the credit record is incorrect or misleading, let us know if the complaint relates to the utility provider or with the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner. For free legal advice and assistance contact the Financial Rights Legal Centre.
What do I do if I'm credit listed?
We can investigate a complaint if you are disputing the amount of the debt or that money is owed. If we find the provider has made an error, they will normally ensure that your credit rating is restored.
We investigate disputed credit listings for unpaid energy and water accounts free of charge. We advise customers against using debt management and credit repair companies that provide a financial service "solution", often for a large fee.
Bankruptcy and disconnection
Your electricity, gas or water can be disconnected if you owe money on your accounts but have been declared a bankrupt.
According to the Australian Financial Security Authority “if [a bankrupt individual has] unpaid accounts relating to housing or essential services such as electricity, telephone or gas the supplier may require payment of the account or a bond for the service to be maintained”.
A bankrupt customer who wants to maintain their energy or water supply will generally need to pay what is owing on their account or establish a payment plan to stay connected.
If you can't negotiate a realistic and affordable payment plan with your supplier contact us. For more help with credit, debt and banking issues, contact the National Debt Hotline.