Credit Harassment

If you fall behind on your loan, credit card or utility bills and don't contact your provider or respond to them, a debt collector may contact you.

A debt collector could be the original credit or service provider collecting the debt themselves or a debt collection agency acting on the creditor's behalf. Sometimes debts are sold and the buyer of the debts is the one doing the collecting.

A debt collector can contact you to:

- Provide information about your account

- Make a demand for payment

- Offer to settle your account or make alternative payment arrangements

- Review existing arrangements after an agreed period

- Explain the consequences of you not paying, including any legal action the collector or creditor can take

- Explain any restrictions to your utilities e.g disconnecting your electricity /gas or restricting your water supply

- Inspect or recover mortgaged goods (if they have a right to do so)

- Find out why you have not responded to attempts to contact you (if this is the case)

- Find out why you have not kept to an agreed repayment plan (if this is the case)

Debt collectors can contact you in a variety of ways, for example, by phone, letter, email, social media or by visiting you in person.

Debt collectors must respect your right to privacy at all times. By law, a debt collector cannot reveal that they are a debt collector or provide information about your financial situation to another person without your permission.

There are restrictions on the times you are allowed to be contacted. Unless you request or agree otherwise.

By Phone - No more than 3 times per week or 10 times per month. Weekdays - 7.30am to 9pm and Weekends - 9am to 9pm

Face to face visits - No more than once a month and should only visit your home if there is no other way to contact you. Visiting you at work should be a last option. Weekdays and weekends - 9am to 9pm.

There is no need for a debt collector to visit you in person if repayment arrangements can be worked out over the phone, or by email or letter. However a debt collector may visit you if you have not responded to other attempts to contact you.

No contact should be made on National public holidays.

If a debt collector uses email, social media or similar technology to contact you about a debt you owe, they must be reasonably sure that the account is not shared with another person and that their message cannot be viewed by anyone except you.

Here are the things debt collectors are not allowed to do, that are against the law.

- Force, trespass or intimidate

- Use or threaten physical force of any kind towards you,any member of your family/people connected with you

- Damage or threaten to damage your property

- Block access to your property or block your way

- Remain on your property when asked to leave, unless they have a Court Order

- Behaviour like this should be reported to the police immediately.

- Harassment, verbal abuse or overbearing behaviour

- Shout at or verbally abuse you (including making personal or demeaning comments)

- Use obscene or racist language

- Contact you more than necessary or at unreasonable times

- False or misleading statements or deceptive conduct

- Make false statements about the money you owe or what will happen if the debt is not paid (e.g. repossess your car)

- Send letters demanding payment that are designed to look like court documents

- Pretend to be or to act for a solicitor, court or government body

- Unfair and unconscionable conduct

A debt collector should not take advantage of you:

- If you are disadvantaged because of illness, disability, age, illiteracy or other circumstances

- If you are not familiar with the law, the debt recovery process, or the consequences of not paying the debt

You can complain about harassment or misconduct by debt collector to the ACCC- Australian Competition and Consumer Commission or ASIC - Australian Securities and Investment Commission.

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Good Insurance for low income earners

One in five adults in Australia goes without general insurance protection for their household contents, car or home. Many of these people are uninsured, not because they don’t want insurance, but because they can’t afford traditional cover.

For these people, replacing essential items like computers and whitegoods or repairing a car, can cause financial hardship and significantly disrupt their daily lives – often these items are simply too expensive to replace.

Good Shepherd Microfinance’s Good Insurance program works with Australia’s largest insurance companies to create affordable and simple insurance policies for people on low incomes. These products enable people to insure their household belongings or cars, so they’re protected if things go wrong and offer affordable premiums with no or negligible excesses, and with flexible payment options available.

There are two insurance products designed for people on low incomes.

[Essentials by AAI](https://www.essentialsbyaai.com.au/), developed with Suncorp, allows customers to comprehensively insure their car, their home contents or both. Customers can also choose to pay premiums annually, or in monthly or fortnightly installments, and use Centrepay to manage payments. You can find out more about Essentials by AAI in South Australia through the [Good Money Store](https://affordablesa.com.au/programs/money-and-finances/good-money-store-salisbury) in Salisbury or by calling 1800 429 598.

[Insurance 4 That](https://www.insurance4that.com.au), developed with Insurance Australia Group (IAG), is a single-item insurance solution. It provides an alternative to traditional contents insurance by enabling people to insure individual items and nominate the insured value of these items. It also gives customers the option to take out additional cover for portable items against theft anywhere in Australia, and comes with flexible payment options. Get a quote online in a few easy steps.

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Tax Help Program

If you need help lodging your tax return, you may be eligible for the Tax Help program. Tax Help is a network of ATO-trained and accredited community volunteers who provide a free and confidential service to help people complete their tax returns online using myTax.

Tax Help is available from July to October in all capital cities and many regional areas across Australia. You are eligible for Tax Help in 2018–19 if your income is around $60,000 or less for the income year and you did not: - work as a contractor, for example a contract cleaner or taxi driver - run a business, including as a sole trader - have partnership or trust matters - sell shares or an investment property - own a rental property - have capital gains tax (CGT) - receive royalties - receive distributions from a trust, other than a managed fund - receive foreign income, other than a foreign pension or annuity.

Volunteers can help you lodge your tax return or amendment online or claim a refund of franking credits. If the volunteers work out that you don’t need to lodge a tax return, they can help you complete a non-lodgment advice. To book an appointment If you’re eligible for Tax Help, you will need a myGov account linked to the ATO. If necessary, the volunteers can help you create your myGov account and link to the ATO.

Remember to bring these to your appointment: - your myGov user ID and password - your bank account details (BSB and account number) - your tax file number - an original or amended notice of assessment from any one of the last five years - income statements from all sources - all your receipts for gifts, donations and work-related expenses - details of any child support payments made - details of any losses on investments in shares and rental properties (net investment losses) - If you had a spouse (married or de-facto) at any time during the financial year, you also need to bring details of their taxable income or a reasonable estimate.

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