Get help with debt and financial issues

Get help with debt and financial issues

Call us for free information about the law and how we can help you with your legal problem.

Phone 1300 792 387, Monday to Friday from 8.45 am to 5.15 pm.

If you need an interpreter let us know.

Other organisations that can help

Consumer Action Law Centre

Consumer Action Law Centre gives free legal advice and representation to vulnerable and disadvantaged consumers across Victoria. You can ask a legal expert for advice about whether you have grounds to dispute a debt or read their self help kits and fact sheets about dealing with debt and debt collectors.

See the Consumer Action Law Centre's videos for more information about the their services and how they can help you.

The MoneyHelp website is managed by the Consumer Action Law Centre. It offers free, confidential and independent financial information to Victorians experiencing difficulty paying their rent or mortgage or facing job loss. Call or email the free financial counselling service.

Other legal services

Your local community legal centre can give you legal information and advice. Most services are free.

You can also find a private lawyer near you through the Law Institute of Victoria’s Legal Referral Service. All law firms included in the Legal Referral Service provide a free 30-minute interview. If you book an interview, write your questions down beforehand, so you get as much out of the free 30 minutes as possible. If you discuss getting further help from the lawyer, make sure you know how much it will cost. It is very important that you bring your referral letter to your appointment.

We recommend that you contact the Law Institute of Victoria before making an appointment with a private practitioner.

Financial counsellors and financial information

Financial counsellors help people who are in financial difficulty. There are free financial counsellors in most suburbs and regional areas. They provide advice about your financial situation, your options, and the consequences of those options.

A financial counsellor can also check your documents, help you sort out your debts, and negotiate with creditors and lenders on your behalf.

It can sometimes take a while to get an appointment with a counsellor, so it’s important to contact them as soon as possible – don’t leave it till the last minute.

Money Smart has a free financial counselling hotline or you can search for a financial counsellor near you.

Watch out for dubious offers of help

Be careful of uninvited offers of help. Some organisations may offer to negotiate with your creditors and to restructure your debts for a fee. They usually write to you after you have been sued. Some of these organisations may be okay but others are not.

Do not sign contracts with such agencies without checking their background. Get legal advice on the contract. Also check with Consumer Affairs Victoria to see if there have been reports about the agency.

Complaints about banks

You should be familiar with your bank accounts and know the fees and charges that apply for services like using an ATM. You must also have a full understanding of the terms and conditions of your accounts.

Most banks have complaints processes. You should try to resolve your problem with the bank first. If you are unhappy with the outcome, the organisations listed below may be able to help.

Complaints about financial services

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission deals with complaints about misconduct or illegal activity by companies and the financial services industry. This includes complaints about insurance companies, insurance brokers, superannuation funds and financial advisers. Their MoneySmart website explains how to complain about your financial problem.

The national Financial Ombudsman Service deals with complaints about financial services including banking, credit, loans, general insurance, life insurance, financial planning, investments, stock broking, managed funds and pooled superannuation trusts.

They provide free dispute resolution for consumers and some small businesses who are unable to resolve a dispute directly with their financial services provider. This is as an alternative to court proceedings. Decisions can be binding on participating financial services providers.

The Credit Ombudsman Service Limited provides consumers with an alternative to legal proceedings for resolving disputes about credit with their members. You can search for financial services provider members on their website.