What Can Debt Collectors Do if You Don’t Pay in Australia?

What can debt collectors do if you don’t pay in Australia

Have you ever been behind on your bills? If you’re in such a situation right now, you may be worried about what can debt collectors do if you don’t pay in Australia.

Keep reading to find out more about this and about what you can do to protect yourself from the wrath of debt collectors.

What is a debt collector?

A debt collector is an individual or company responsible for recovering debts to third-party owners, such as creditors, banks, or lenders. Typically, debt collectors work on behalf of these creditors and are tasked with contacting individuals who have fallen behind on their payments to negotiate a payment plan or settlement.

Debt collectors can be relatively helpful with surviving bankruptcies in Australia and helping people get back on track with managing their finances, but they can also be extremely aggressive and even harass people at times.

In Australia and many other countries around the world, strict laws govern the activities of debt collectors and prevent them from harassing people and intimidating them. Despite these regulations, it’s important people understand their rights and exercise caution when interacting with debt collectors to avoid being taken advantage of.

What can debt collectors do if you don’t pay in Australia?

If you don’t pay your debts, debt collectors may take certain actions to try to get you to pay. For example, they may:

  • Contact you by phone, letter or email
  • Ask for payment from friends or family members
  • Arrange for regular deductions and fees from your wage
  • Enter into a garnishee order with your employer to deduct money from your wages
  • Make arrangements for the debt to be paid through your tax return
  • Arranges for the debt to be paid from your bank account (if the amount owed is $5,000 or less)
  • Apply to the court for a legal judgment and order that the debt be paid
  • Put a lien on your property (a legal claim that gives them the right to take your property if you don’t pay)
  • If you’re still not paying, debt collectors can ask the court to issue a legal warrant for your arrest, which is called a “body attachment order.”

What can’t debt collectors do if you don’t pay in Australia?

There are a few things that debt collectors in Australia cannot do: 

  • Harass or threaten you in any way – this includes using offensive language, making repeated phone calls or visits, contacting you at unreasonable hours, or publishing your name or details as a debtor.
  • Give false or misleading information about you to anyone, including credit reporting agencies.
  • Take any action which would unavoidably result in excessive hardship for you and your family.

Debt collectors face a disciplinary penalty if they break any of these rules.

Note: If they’re harassing or intimidating you, ask them in writing to stop it. The Financial Rights Legal Centre has a letter template you can use.

Tips if you are struggling to pay the debt

In Australia, 37% of debtors are having problems paying off their debt.

If you’re one of the many Australians who are struggling to keep up with your repayments, here are a few tips to help you in surviving bankruptcies in Australia:

  • Take a closer look at your budget and see where you can make some cuts; there may be some expenses that you can eliminate entirely, or at least reduce. Every little bit helps!
  • Consider consolidating your debts; this can help to reduce your overall monthly payments, so be sure to talk to a financial advisor to see what would work best for your situation and to maybe recommend you an appropriate insurance plan.
  • If all else fails, reach out to your creditors and explain your situation. They may be willing to work with you on a payment plan or offer other assistance. Don’t be afraid to ask —it’s better than falling behind on your repayments.

Bottom Line

If you live in Australia and you’re in debt, be very careful about what you do. The Australian government has some pretty strict laws when it comes to debt collection, and if you don’t pay up, the collectors can come after you in a number of ways. We hope this article has been helpful in informing you what can debt collectors do if you don’t pay in Australia.


1. What happens if you ignore debt collectors in Australia?

Ignoring debt collectors in Australia may eventually take you to court. If the court finds it in their favour, they can order you to pay the debt, plus interest and court costs. They may also garnish your wages or freeze your bank account.

2. When do debt collectors give up?

In most states in Australia, the limitation period for debts is six years (three in Northern Territory). This would mean that during this time, debt collectors are allowed to try to get you to repay the debt. However, if you manage to somehow avoid repaying this debt while also avoiding debt collectors, they’d have to leave you alone after this period has passed.

3. Can you go to jail for not paying debts in Australia?

If you find yourself asking what can debt collectors do if you don t pay in Australia, know that, if you fail to make payments on a court-ordered debt, the court could issue a warrant for your arrest. This typically happens only in cases of serious non-payment.

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