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Credit law toolkit

Complaining to ASIC

How to Guide: Complaining to ASIC

This How to Guide covers making a complaint to ASIC about the conduct of a credit provider or other credit assistant (for example a finance broker or a mortgage manager).

About ASIC

The Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) is the regulator of the Credit Law in Australia.

Why complain to ASIC?

There are good reasons to complain to ASIC:

  • It gives ASIC information about what is happening in relation to loans in Australia. With more information, ASIC is able to identify systemic conduct it may wish to prosecute.
  • ASIC has powers under the Credit Law including–
    • General administration of the Credit Law
    • The ability to suspend or cancel a licence (Division 6 of the Credit Law)
    • Banning and disqualification of persons involved in engaging in credit activities (Part 2–4 of the Credit Law)
    • The power to intervene in proceedings (Part 4–3 Division 4 s. 209 of the Credit Law)
    • Power to examine, investigate, inspect records and enforce decisions (Chapter 6 of the Credit Law)
    • Enforce breaches of the Credit Law
    • The ability to make hardship and unjustness applications in relation to credit contracts under the National Credit Code
  • ASIC also has powers under the ASIC Act in relation to misleading and deceptive conduct, unconscionable conduct and harassment or coercion in the collection of debts arising from financial services (including credit)
  • May intervene and assist your client (although this will be rare)

How do you complain to ASIC?

You can complain to ASIC online, in writing or by phone.

Online

www.asic.gov.au/about-asic/contact-us

Phone

Australia 1300 300 630

International +61 3 5177 3777

If you need a translator, call the Telephone Interpreter Service on 131 450. They will call ASIC for you.

If you are filling in an ASIC Complaint Form you should select consumer advocate or financial counsellor in the complainant type field.

How much detail is required?

You do not have to worry about the detail. For example, you can just describe what has happened—you do not need to know which section of the Credit Law has possibly been breached. If ASIC needs more information, it can contact you or your client to get that further information.

What about my client’s dispute?

The best interests of your client are paramount. Your client’s best interests are more important than complaining to ASIC. However, complaining to ASIC can be in the public interest, so if it is possible to complain to ASIC and not compromise your client’s best interests then it should be considered.

Some guidelines:

  • Get the permission of your client to make a complaint to ASIC
  • Give a copy of the complaint to the client
  • If you do not wish to send the complaint on behalf of the consumer, just draft a brief complaint and give it to the consumer to send
  • Make the complaint to ASIC as early as possible in the dispute process because it is difficult (and arguably unethical) to make a complaint after a good faith settlement has been reached
  • It is recommended that you not inform the credit provider (or credit representative) that you are making a complaint to ASIC. This can sometimes interfere with negotiating a settlement

Disputes that are worth referring to ASIC

Although you can complain to ASIC about any aspect of the Credit Law, it is worth concentrating on the following:

  • Operating unlicensed
  • Avoiding the Credit Law
  • Any dispute that appears to be a systemic problem—A systemic problem is when the same problem is or could be happening to a number of consumers not just your client e.g. debtor harassment
  • responsible lending
  • Serious problems with getting access to financial hardship (eg, failure to respond or reasonably consider)
  • Fringe Lending (including payday loans)
  • Rental contracts
  • Lack of procedural fairness or poor decision making in EDR