A customer was wrongly pursued for a debt and default listed (January 2017)

Debt collection and credit default listings
Case Number 2016/27615
Outcome Conciliation

The Issue

A community worker contacted EWOV on behalf of a client who was being pursued by a debt collector for an unpaid gas bill. The debt collector was seeking payment of $228 relating to four days of gas use at a property in Broadmeadows. The billing period was 26 to 30 November 2011. The customer said that he did not owe the debt as he had never lived at that property. He arrived in Australia in February 2011 as an asylum seeker and stayed with friends until he found a house to rent in June 2011.

The customer first contacted the energy retailer about the debt and was told to speak directly to the debt collection agency. He was unhappy with previous communications with the debt collector so raised the matter with a community worker who then contacted EWOV for help.

The Investigation

EWOV referred the matter back to the energy retailer as an Assisted Referral. The retailer agreed to waive the debt if the customer provided a copy of his driver licence to prove where he was living at the time of the disputed bill. The customer did not have a driver licence at that time. The matter was unable to be resolved, so the community worker contacted EWOV again and the complaint was raised as an Investigation.

During EWOV’s Investigation we found that the $228 debt had also been credit defaulted listed in the customer’s name.

Working with the customer’s community worker, we received a copy of a real estate payment ledger for the customer’s 2011 rental property. This showed that he lived at a different address during the time of the disputed bill. He lived at this different address from 7 June 2011 to 9 May 2012. This supported the customer’s position that he was not responsible for the debt and so debt collection should be called off and the default listing removed.

The Outcome

The retailer apologised for the inconvenience caused to the customer, cancelled all debt collection and removed the credit default listing as if it never existed in the first place. The customer was given a direct contact at the retailer should he have any further concerns.

To learn more about debt collection and credit default listings, read EWOV’s fact sheet - Credit Default Listings and Debt Collection.

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