Benjamin purchased a dining table and chairs on finance. He repaid $1,400 towards the dining table and chairs but then struggled to keep up with his repayments. In 2018, the lender referred the debt to a collection agency.
Benjamin made payments to the collection agency until late 2020. He stopped paying because he believed he had repaid the debt in full. However, the collection agency said he still owed $280.
In 2021, Benjamin asked the collection agency for a statement showing his payments to them and their charges. The collection agency said they could not provide this and referred Benjamin to the lender.
When Benjamin contacted the lender, they told him the collection agency had confirmed his account was repaid in full. The lender asked the collection agency for a statement, but they did not provide one.
Benjamin was not happy with the lender’s response because he still wanted a statement. He believed he may have been due a refund because he had paid $200 direct to the lender, after they had referred the debt for collection. Benjamin believed this may not have been applied to his debt.
Benjamin complained to FSCL about the lender. The collection agency was not a FSCL member.
Benjamin believed the collection agency should provide an account statement showing his transactions with them.
The lender said the collection agency do not generate statements for debtors.
There seemed no good reason for why the collection agency were unable to provide a statement showing payments they had received from Benjamin and their charges which were passed on to him. The lender was responsible for the collection agency’s failure to provide this information. At law, a lender is responsible for the acts and omissions of their agents.
The lender accepted our view and asked the collection agency to manually generate an account statement for Benjamin. When Benjamin reviewed the statement, he said he was due a $200 refund. In the interests of an early resolution, the lender agreed to pay the refund.
Insights for participants
Under the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act 2003, a lender must treat a borrower reasonably and in an ethical manner when collecting an unpaid loan. Lenders also need to comply with the Fair Trading Act 1986 when collecting debts. A lender should ensure their collection agents comply with the lender’s legal obligations.