Make an official complaint
The first step with any debt issue is always talk to your lender or debt collector, or ask a free financial mentor to do this for you. If this doesn't resolve your issue, you have options for taking it further:
- Financial dispute resolution scheme — for complaints about your lender/debt collector, eg high fees or giving you a loan you could never afford.
- Privacy Commissioner — for breaches of privacy, eg telling your family and employer about your debt without your permission.
- Commerce Commission — for complaints involving the Fair Trading Act or the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act. You can complain to the Commerce Commission and the financial disputes resolution scheme at the same time. The scheme will seek resolution for your specific problem, and the Commission focuses on the breaches in the law.
You can also get free legal advice from Community Law.
Our law centres(external link) — Community Law Centres
Dispute resolution scheme
All banks, lenders and financial advisers must belong to a financial dispute resolution scheme. This independent body can:
- give you information about how lenders should act
- share tips on how to complain to your lender
- look into certain complaints when you and your lender cannot agree on a solution.
It's free for you talk to them and make a complaint. Or a free financial mentor can do this for you. Start by contacting the MoneyTalks helpline.
Free confidential advice(external link) — MoneyTalks
There are four financial dispute resolution schemes. To find out which your lender belongs to, you can either:
- Ask your lender.
- Phone any one of the four schemes to find out. For contact details, see:
Financial dispute resolution schemes
You can also check the lender's entry on the Financial Service Providers Register:
Search the register(external link) — Financial Service Providers Register
If the debt collector is acting for your lender, you can still contact the lender's dispute resolution scheme. But it may be more difficult to reach a resolution. The debt collector is not part of the scheme and doesn't have to follow the same laws.
If your debt is from fines, this option does not apply because fines are not covered by the CCCFA.
The dispute resolution scheme will try to find a solution you and the lender can agree on.
Depending what went wrong, solutions include:
- changing your repayments, eg more time to pay
- waiving some or all fees
- lower interest rate
- reducing your debt
- an apology
If you and the lender/debt collector can't agree a solution, the dispute resolution scheme will decide.
It's up to you to accept or reject the decision. If you don't accept it, you can take your complaint elsewhere, eg Disputes Tribunal or District Court. The lender cannot disagree with the disputes resolution scheme's decision.
Debt collectors, lenders and other creditors (people or organisations you owe money) must not tell your family, friends, employer or others about your debt without your consent. If they do, you can complain for free to the Privacy Commissioner. This applies whether your debt is from fines or from credit.
The Privacy Commissioner investigates complaints when a debt collector or creditor either:
- breaches a privacy principle, eg telling a neighbour about your debts
- causes significant harm, eg financial loss, breach of your rights, serious embarrassment, hurt feelings, loss of dignity.
The Privacy Commissioner can:
- decide if your privacy has been breached
- ask creditors or debt collectors to meet with you, or share information
- facilitate a settlement.
The Privacy Commissioner cannot:
- make creditors and debt collectors give you information
- issue fines
- force either side to accept a settlement.
If you're unhappy with the result from the Privacy Commissioner, or the debt collector/creditor doesn't do what's required, you can take your complaint to the Human Rights Review Tribunal.
You cannot take a complaint straight to the tribunal without going to the Privacy Commissioner first.
Making a complaint(external link) — Office of the Privacy Commissioner
Human Rights Review Tribunal(external link) — Ministry of Justice