A debt on your electricity, gas or water account can lead to debt collection or a credit default listing, and sometimes things can go wrong in the process.
If you have a debt that you don't pay, your electricity, gas or water company might start debt collection against you. It may also sell your debt to a debt collector, a separate company which will try to recover the debt from you.
Your company may also list a default on your credit file. It’s what is known as a credit default listing.
If a debt is over $150 and is 60 days overdue, your electricity, gas or water company can report it to a credit reporting body like Equifax, Dun & Bradstreet or Experian. The credit reporting body puts information about the default on your credit file. If you apply for credit later on, such as a credit card, your application might be rejected because of the default listed on your file.
There are steps your company must follow when it reports a default, like warning you in writing beforehand.
Electricity, gas and water companies sometimes sell debts to a debt collector. These are separate companies that specialise in recovering debts. This usually happens after a customer has moved out of a property and their account has been closed.
Debt collectors are allowed to collect debt but they have to obey the law. They can only contact you at certain times and they must not:
- use physical force or coercion
- harass you
- mislead or deceive you
- take unfair advantage of any vulnerability (such as a disability).
If you think there’s been a mistake with a debt that’s being collected or with a default listing, contact your electricity, gas or water company. They must discuss what has happened, even if they’ve already sold or default listed the debt.
You can contact the credit reporting body to get a free copy of your credit report:
- once a year
- if you have applied for, and been refused credit, within the past 90 days
- where your request for access relates to correcting information in the file.
There are rules that electricity gas and water companies, and their agents, must follow for any debt collection or default listing. Read our fact sheet for more information.
If you think there’s been a mistake with debt collection or credit default listing, or you don’t think the company is following the rules, and you can’t sort out the problem with them, contact us.
We can investigate what happened to check if the company followed the rules and check if any credit default was listed incorrectly. If there’s been a mistake, we’ll ask the company to fix or remove the listing.
We can help with most complaints about energy or water issues in Victoria, big or small. Our service is free to Victorian customers.
"Treated me with dignity and respect and listened to me"
Need general information?
If you don’t have a complaint but just want some general information, we call this an enquiry. We may even be able to refer you to another agency.
You can make an enquiry at any time. Call us on 1800 500 509, send us an email or start a live chat.