ACM Group found guilty of misconduct for "widespread" and "systemic" harassment of vulnerable consumers

ACM Group found guilty of misconduct for "widespread" and "systemic" harassment of vulnerable consumers

Debt collectors ACM Group have been found to have been engaged in deceptive and misleading conduct relating to two “vulnerable consumers” in cases brought forward by the ACCC and ASIC. The firm, which used methods of harassment and coercion including multiple telephone calls, false threats and misinformation, have now been put on notice as a direct result of their conduct, which was found to infringe on Australian Consumer Law by the Federal Court.

The ACCC said that between 2011 and 2015 ACM unfairly and inappropriately pursued two low-income consumers over defaults on their phone bills: debts that had been sold on to ACM by their service providers, including Telstra.

ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said that the “conduct by ACM was particularly egregious, as it included ongoing harassment of a care facility resident who had difficulty communicating after suffering multiple strokes, as well as a Centrelink recipient who was falsely told their credit would be affected for up to seven years if they failed to pay immediately.”

Despite the debtors’ assets and income meaning that a judgement debt through the courts would be impossible, and despite knowing that they had “no means, or only limited means, to repay”, ACM repeatedly threatened legal action against them, including threatening bankruptcy, undoubtedly causing them undue stress.

“Lower-income groups suffer greater stress because of debt collection practices and have limited access to legal support, while creditors are using improper ways to escalate disputes,” Ms Court said. “One of the ACCC’s enduring enforcement priorities is taking action against conduct that impacts disadvantaged or vulnerable consumers”.

Gerard Brody, Consumer Action’s Director of Policy and Campaigns, said he was pleased that in the context of the legal action, ACM Group had revised its debt collection procedures significantly. He also implied that providers ought to have more responsibility towards their customers.

“Firms that sell debts to external collectors should have adequate controls to ensure those collectors abide by the law. If a consumer disputes a debt being sought by an external collector, firms should consider buying back debts so that consumers can fairly resolve complaints and disputes with the original creditor,” said Mr Brody.

More information on dealing with debt collectors: your rights and responsibilities.

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Learn more about credit cards

How to get rid of credit card debt

  1. Calculate your debt. Credit card calculators make it easy to determine the repayments required to chip away at your debt in the shortest timeframe possible for your budget.
  2. Repayment plans. Take some time to formulate a credit repayment plan. Consider increasing your income, scaling back your lifestyle or refinancing.
  3. Talk to your credit provider. If you’re still struggling with your debt, give your credit provider a call. You may be able to come to a new arrangement.

How to pay a credit card from another bank

Paying or transferring debt from one lender to the other is called a balance transfer. This involves transferring part or all of the debt from a credit card with one lender to a credit card with another. As part of the process, your new lender will pay out the old lender, so that you now owe the same amount of money but to a new institution.

Many credit card providers offer an interest-free period on balance transfers to help new applicants better handle their debt. During this period, cardholders are not required to pay interest on the debt they brought over from the other card. This can be a great opportunity for consumers to pay off credit card debt with no interest. There are often fees associated with balance transfers; normally, these are a percentage of the amount transferred.

So make sure you read the terms and conditions of the card before transferring any debt across.

Can I get a credit card on part-time/casual work?

Yes, as credit card providers look at your annual income amount as well as your occupation. Minimum income requirements tend to be between $30,000 – $40,000 for standard and rewards credit cards, however low income credit cards can have minimum income requirements as low as $15,000 per year.

What is a balance transfer credit card?

A balance transfer credit card lets you transfer your debt balance from one credit card to another. A balance transfer credit card generally has a 0 per cent interest rate for a set period of time. When you roll your debt balance over to a new credit card, you’ll be able to take advantage of the interest-free period to pay your credit card debt off faster without accruing additional interest charges. If your application is approved, the provider will pay out your old credit card and transfer your debt balance over to the new card. 

Are credit checks mandatory?

In Australia it is impossible to get a credit card without the provider performing a credit check first. This is for your benefit, as it helps to prevent you from falling into avoidable debt.

What is the CUA credit card increase limit process?

A credit limit is pre-assigned based on factors like your income, expenses, and debt by the card-issuing company. It varies from time to time based on credit utilisation and changes to your circumstances.

If your income has increased or your liabilities have reduced, you can request for an increase of your CUA credit card limit. You can lodge the request via online banking on the website, or by visiting the closest branch, or by downloading the application form and mailing it. While making the application, you may need to provide information about your income, employment status, desired limit, and the reason for the increase. The card-issuing company will assess your request before approval.

Before you apply for an increase to the credit limit, ensure your bills are paid in full and you aren’t asking for a very steep enhancement.

How does ANZ increase my credit card limit?

If you’re the primary cardholder on an ANZ credit card, you can increase your credit limit by logging into your credit card account and choosing the “Increase your credit limit” option. You can also submit an ANZ credit card limit increase application form by visiting any ANZ branch or by mail or fax. When completing the form, it's important to remember to specify how much you want the limit increased. You can estimate this by first calculating the amount of credit card debt you can afford to repay based on your income and expenses, and then declaring that in your application. 

Irrespective of whether you’re completing your ANZ credit card limit increase application online or in print, you’ll need to provide updated employment information, income, and expenses, which the company will have to verify. You'll also need to authorise ANZ’s access to your credit history, as your current credit score and recent credit history tell the company about your financial responsibility, and whether or not you'll be able to repay the additional debt you’re applying for. 

In some cases, ANZ may ask you for additional information, or the agent processing the application may reach out to you after your application is received. After verifying your credit score as well as your personal and financial information, however, ANZ may approve a credit card limit increase proportionate to your repaying ability, though it may not be the same as the increase you requested.

How to increase a Citi credit card limit?

Before requesting an increase in the limit of your Citibank credit card, you’ll need to find out if you’re eligible for the increased limit. You can check your eligibility for a Citibank credit card limit increase by calling 13 24 84 or checking the “My Offers” section of your online Citibank account. If you are eligible and request a credit card limit increase, the company will review your income and expenses, including the repayments you make to clear other debts. Your request may be approved if Citibank can confirm that you can repay the full credit card balance, as stipulated by Australian laws, within three years.


To make sure that the company is reviewing your current earnings, you should update any income details by providing recent payslips or a tax assessment notice. In case you are still repaying other debts, consider consolidating or paying off some in full before applying for a credit limit increase. This will free up more disposable income, or earnings left over after deducting all necessary expenses, and possibly determine how much you can increase your credit card limit.

What is a credit card?

A credit card is a payment method which lets you pay for goods and services without using your own money. It’s essentially a short-term loan which lets you borrow the bank’s money to pay for things which you can pay back – potentially with interest – at a later date. Credit cards can also be used to withdraw money from an ATM, which is known as a cash advance. Because you’re borrowing money from a bank, credit cards charge you interest on the money you use (unless you repay the entire debt during the interest-free period). When you apply for a credit card, the bank gives you a credit limit which sets the maximum amount you can borrow using your card. Credit cards are one of the most popular methods of payments and can be a convenient way of paying for goods and services in store, online and all around the globe.

How to pay a credit card

There are a few ways to pay a credit card bill. These include:

  • BPAY - allows you to safely make credit card payments online.
  • Direct debits - set up an automatic payment from your bank account to pay your credit card bill each month. You can choose how much you want to pay of your credit card bill when you set up the auto payments.
  • In a branch.
  • Via your credit card provider's app.

How do you use a credit card?

Credit cards are a quick and convenient way to pay for items in store, online or over the phone. You can use a credit card as a cashless way to pay for goods or services, both locally and overseas. You can also use a credit card to make a cash advance, which gives you the flexibility to withdraw cash from your credit card account. Because a credit card uses the bank’s funds instead of your own, you will be charged interest on the money you spend – unless you pay off the entire debt within the interest-free period. If you pay the minimum monthly repayment, you will be charged interest. There are many different credit card options on the market, all offering different interest rates and reward options.

Can a pensioner get a credit card?

It is possible to get a credit card as a pensioner. There are some factors to keep in mind, including:

  • Annual income. Look for credit cards with minimum annual income requirements you can meet. 
  • Annual fees. If high fees are a concern for you, opt for a card with a low or $0 annual fee. 
  • Interest rate. Make sure you won’t have any nasty surprises on your credit card bill. Compare cards with a low interest rates to minimise risk.

Why should I check my credit rating?

There are two reasons you should check your credit rating: so you have a better understanding of your financial position, and so you can take action (if necessary) to improve your credit rating.

Lenders use credit ratings or credit scores to assess loan applications. The higher your score, the more likely you are to get approved, and the more likely you are to be charged lower interest rates and lower fees. Conversely, the lower your credit score, the less likely you are to get approved, and the more likely you are to be charged higher interest rates and higher fees.

How to get a new credit card

To get a new credit card, generally you need to be at least 18 years old and have a good credit rating. You don’t need to be an Australian citizen. Usually you can apply online or in person at a branch of the card issuer. You’ll typically have to supply information like:

  • Your income and living costs (e.g. rent/mortgage, loan repayments, living expenses)
  • Your employer’s contact details
  • Details of your assets and any debts you are paying off