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Rules of conduct when pursuing a debt

When pursuing a debt there are strict rules which apply to your behaviour.


  • demand money without saying who you are and how much money is owed
  • demand more money than is actually owed
  • continue to demand money from someone who denies they owe money without making further inquiries as to whether your demands for the money are valid
  • contact people who know the debtor, for example a debtor’s employer, friends, relatives or neighbours, unless you are doing so to get the debtor’s address
  • blackmail a debtor – this includes threatening, or making reference to, possible criminal proceedings if the debt is not paid
  • pretend to be authorised in some official capacity to claim or enforce payment of a debt

This behaviour is likely to anger the debtor will not be as effective as being polite, and may be illegal. A letter of request is a way of formally asking for payment of the debt. It is not a necessary step in commencing legal action.

See Fair Trading Act 1974 s 43

See also ASIC's Regulatory Guide 96 Debt collection guideline: for collectors and creditors.

Rules of conduct when pursuing a debt  :  Last Revised: Mon Oct 22nd 2012
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.