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The Financial Rights Legal Centre has supported Australians experiencing vulnerability to deal with financial disputes and hardship since 1987. We are a not-for-profit community legal centre whose office is based on Gadigal land in Sydney, NSW. We provide free and independent financial counselling, legal advice and advocacy nationally through our telephone services. Since opening we have provided life-changing assistance to hundreds of thousands of consumers facing financial problems including credit, debt, banking, bankruptcy and insurance.
Can you make a tax-deductible donation to support our work?
Maggie’s Story: Funeral Insurance
Maggie took out a funeral insurance policy over the phone. She had second thoughts and called the insurer the next day to cancel the policy. The salesman subjected her to a lengthy spiel and used emotive language, such as her placing a “burden on her loved ones”. Maggie tried again the next week but was told that she would need to put her cancellation request in writing. Maggie tried several times over the next few years to cancel the policy but each time the insurer deflected her requests and she felt overwhelmed. Financial Rights got involved and was able to help Maggie cancel her policy and get her premiums refunded.
Josie’s Story: Confusion over excess
Josie’s car was parked on the street overnight. The next morning she woke up to find it had been ploughed into by another car and the police were in attendance. They told her that the driver had been arrested and they did not know if he had insurance. Josie contacted her insurer and made a claim. They asked her to pay an excess. Josie said that she wasn’t at fault but her insurer says she still needs to pay. Financial Rights was able to give Josie advice about how excess works, how she can raise a dispute with her insurer if she has the other driver’s contact details.
Steve’s Story: Unpaid toll debts
Two years ago, Steve sold his car and cancelled the e-tag which was installed in the car. A few months ago, Steve received a letter from a debt collector stating that he owed $15,000 in unpaid tolls for a car which he sold 2 years ago. Steve ignored the letter and has now received a Statement of Claim, commencing court proceedings against him for failure to pay the debt. Financial Rights helped Steve respond to the court proceedings and complete a statutory declaration saying he sold the car two years ago and the new owner of the car is responsible for paying the tolls.
Sally’s story – Advice about bankruptcy
Sally is 55 years old and has $55,000 in credit card debt. Previously she was earning $70,000 per year, but has been out of work for almost 12 months now. She lives in a private rental and owns a car worth around $10,000. She had been meeting the minimum repayments on her credit cards but is struggling to reduce the balances. She wants advice about going bankrupt. Financial Rights was able to talk Sally through the pros and cons of bankruptcy and to think about all her options. A financial counsellor helped her make a money plan and to contact her credit card lenders about affordable repayment arrangements.
Christine’s Story: Financial Stress from BNPL
Christine, Frank and their young family live in regional NSW. During COVID Frank lost his job. Christine opened a BNPL account to buy essentials. Minimum payments were a struggle and enforcement fees made the situation worse. Christine stopped work due to ill health, and the family relied on food vouchers to make ends meet. Financial Rights argued that Christine was unable to pay the debt without substantial hardship. We asked for a waiver due to the family’s severe financial situation. This was agreed, Christine was barred from opening any new BNPL accounts with that provider.
Patrick’s Story: Car Loan
Patrick, who was 67, got a car loan. He understood the instalments would add up to $8,000. He was upset to find out that the loan totalled $17,000 because it included warranties and fees. There was no evidence that the lender told Patrick of these extra costs. Financial Rights helped Patrick to argue the loan didn’t meet his requirements and objectives, and he couldn’t afford $17,000. Patrick’s debt was reduced to $8,000, he kept the car and negotiated to pay the debt at $100 per fortnight.
Help Jan with the rising cost of living.
When Jan became ill, she found it difficult to make ends meet. As she recovered, Jan registered for Centrelink but her bills kept mounting up and she received a letter threatening to cut off her power if she didn’t pay immediately. Financial Rights contacted her energy provider, got Jan into their hardship program and made sure she received all the right concessions. We helped her with a money plan to cut expenses, access vouchers for other bills and set up automatic bill payments from her Centrelink income.
Giving $30 will fund a financial counsellor to call Jan’s energy provider and help her access their hardship program.
Giving $50 will help us work through Jan’s other expenses impacted by the cost of living and ensure she receives all the right concessions.
Giving $100 will allow a financial counsellor to make Jan a Money Plan which can be used to negotiate payment arrangements.