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  • Bank must pay compensation to woman over harassment
  • 06/11/2015 Make a Comment
  • Contributed by: Moses ( 11 articles in 2015 )
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A BANK that unfairly harassed a customer over credit card debts has been ordered to pay $26,450 compensation.

The Financial Ombudsman Service decision erased the woman’s debts on two cards, ruling she was likely to have suffered “undue distress and anxiety”.

The bank repeatedly pursued her on her mobile phone for almost three years after she pleaded with it to stop contacting her that way because she was “extremely upset” about constant calls.

Industry standards were also violated when she was hounded 27 times through calls, text messages and solicitor's letters after she lodged a dispute with the watchdog late last year.

“It is an unusual case but a reminder to other financial service providers to ensure that their debt collection processes are working properly,” banking and finance lead ombudsman Philip Field said.

“The compensation is in recognition that she has been put through the wringer.

“The financial services provider should have stopped when she asked and could have turned to other alternatives, such as writing or going to court.”

Debt collection guidelines ban “excessive” communication and note “a creditor should not contact a debtor by a particular medium if the debtor has asked for the creditor to no longer contact them by that method”.

All forms of debt collection must be suspended once a dispute is before the ombudsman.

The woman had $3500 in debt waived because the bank ignored her specific request to cease telephone contact.

A further $22,950 was wiped from her credit card balances because of continued attempts to chase debt when the Financial Ombudsman Service was investigating her complaint. That was regarded as a “particularly serious breach”.

The parties involved in the case were not identified.

Debt collectors attempt to contact Australians owing money 65 million times a year, an Australian Competition and Consumer Commission report released this year found.


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