You can appoint a debt management service to represent you and to assist in managing your financial difficulty.
The debt management service broadly covers services like:
- Providing consumers with credit assistance or debt management assistance. (budgets).
- negotiating with creditors, including lenders, and other organisations you owe money to.
- advising and arranging formal debt agreements under the Bankruptcy Act.
- ‘cleaning’, ‘fixing’ ‘repairing’, or ‘removing’ default listings or other information on credit reports.
However, many of these services charge substantial fees for these services, which you can often achieve for free through our Financial Hardship Care program.
If you’re thinking about engaging a debt management service to support you through your financial difficulty, we encourage you to first consider using our free services, which include:
- Talking to us directly. We have a Financial Hardship Care program that is free to access. We have a team exclusively dedicated to finding solutions for our customers who are experiencing short term or long term financial difficulty.
- Find out how to check your credit record and repair it, for free. Website: https://www.equifax.com.au/
- Find a free and independent financial counsellor with the help of The National Debt Helpline. Phone: 1800 007 007 or Website: http://www.ndh.org.au
- Get free legal help from a community legal service.
- Get out of debt faster – Way Forward is an independent not for profit organisation that provides free help to get you out of debt faster. They can create a budget, establish affordable arrangements with your creditors, and make debt repayments for you. Phone: 1300 045 502, or Website: https://wayforward.org.au/
- Visit MoneySmart for information and guidance if you’re in trouble with debt, need credit repair or emergency relief and crisis assistance (urgent need of food, bills, housing and emotional support). Website: https://moneysmart.gov.au/
If you still feel a debt management service is the right option for you, we understand and we respect your choice. Our priority is for you get the right outcome for your situation. If we do not believe your debt management service representative is acting in your best interests, we will communicate this to you and to your representative. Examples of when we may contact you directly include when your representative:
- does not respond to our communications within a reasonable time (normally seven days).
- is unlicensed (further information on this is below).
- is excluded from lodging complaints with Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA).
- is acting and making decisions in a manner that we have assessed as not being in your best interests.
- has not provided us with requested information that is reasonably required by a us to assess your hardship care application or complaint, and these requests have been unreasonably refused.
- has behaved in a way that creates an unsafe work environment for our staff, including the use of aggressive, intimidating, or threatening language or behaviour.
If we decide not to deal with your appointed debt management service, we will contact you and clearly explain the reasons why we have made this decision and provide you with other options to resolve your situation.
Requirement for debt management services to hold a credit licence
From 1 July 2021 (subject to transitional arrangements), providers of debt management services must:
- Be a member of AFCA, and
- Hold an ASIC credit licence with authorisation that covers debt management services.
Please see ASIC’s website for further information on these requirements.
After 1 July 2021, if you wish to appoint a debt management service to represent you, Latitude will first need to confirm that it has an appropriate credit licence that covers the debt management service it wishes to provide to you before we can start engaging and communicating with your appointed representative.