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New rules to assist consumers experiencing financial hardship

From 29 March 2024, new rules will assist consumers experiencing financial hardship to remain connected to essential phone and internet services.

Under the new rules, providers will be required to offer more tailored assistance to consumers who struggle to make their payments. Providers will also be required to proactively identify consumers who may be experiencing hardship, and offer additional advice relating to hardship assistance. 

The TIO received over 1600 complaints about financial hardship in the 2023 financial year, a slight increase on the previous year. The current cost of living crisis highlights the need to have adaptable and compassionate responses to hardship.  

The new rules mandate that telcos proactively provide hardship information and referrals, meet new minimum requirements for credit management, and appropriately train customer service staff to identify and communicate with consumers in financial difficulty.  

Frontline TIO staff will be across the new rules to support consumers from 29 March 2024. 

The new rules apply for small business, residential and not-for-profit consumers. Further information on the new rules can be found on the ACMA’s website.