An Impending 'Avalanche': Debt Collection and Consumer Harm after COVID-19
Australian Business Law Review, Vol. 49, No. 2, 2021, pp. 84-115
44 Pages Posted: 7 Sep 2021
Date Written: July 29, 2021
Debt collection activity is expected to rise significantly in 2021, as financial hardship becomes more prevalent due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Consumer advocates have warned of an impending “avalanche in debt collection” and have called for better enforcement of laws designed to protect consumers from harassment as well as unfair, misleading and deceptive conduct by debt collectors. Women’s groups have also pointed to a rise in economic abuse, and resulting indebtedness, in the context of a general escalation in family violence during the pandemic. This article examines the legal framework governing the Australian debt collection industry. Drawing on recent case law and a series of focus groups conducted by the authors, it outlines law reform and enforcement measures that would better protect consumers from harmful debt collection practices. These include specific measures to address the financial, social and psychological impacts of family violence and economic abuse.
Keywords: debt collection; consumer harm; financial hardship
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