Bank entitled to pursue debts after offering support

Hardship and financial difficulty,
Leonie fell behind on repayments on her credit cards, and the bank tried unsuccessfully to contact her. Eventually it said it would take debt recovery action if it didn’t hear from her. Leonie then made contact. She said she had lost her cleaning job and was looking for another one. The bank said its hardship team could give her help but she would need to reach a repayment arrangement with the bank at the end of the support period. Leonie said she understood this and thanked the bank for its support.
October 2021

The hardship team managed her use of her credit cards for six months, but at the end of this period she had secured only part-time work. She entered into a repayment arrangement but eventually fell behind. About the same time, she learned the bank had reported her missed payments to a collection agency. She complained that the bank had assured her she would not have to make repayments until able to and should not have reported her missed payments to the collection agency. The bank did not agree, but offered to write off the remaining debt if she closed her accounts with the bank and these facts were recorded on her credit history. She found these conditions unacceptable because she wanted to keep her credit cards. The bank then offered to reduce the amount owing on her cards by $2,000. However, Leonie did not accept this either and asked us to investigate. The bank agreed to keep its offers on the table while we did so.

Our investigation

We reviewed all correspondence and phone calls between Leonie and the bank, including letters from the bank’s hardship team. Leonie placed great weight on these letters which we considered were poorly drafted and contained no information about exactly what the bank’s hardship support would consist of. However, when viewed together with all the bank’s other contact with Leonie, including phone calls with the hardship team, we were satisfied the bank made clear that arrears would continue to accrue on her accounts while they were with the hardship team, and further that this hardship assistance meant she would not receive contact from the bank about overdue payments. We told Leonie she should accept one of the bank’s offers.


We did not uphold Leonie’s complaint, and Leonie did not accept either of the bank’s offers.

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