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No need for consumers to pay for dispute resolution

20 September 2012

The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) supports recommendations made by Energy and Water Ombudsman NSW to raise awareness of free Ombudsman services to consumers who are thinking about using a Credit Repair Agency.

“The TIO is a fast, free and fair way for consumers to have their telco complaints resolved,” Ombudsman Simon Cohen said.

“It is clearly preferable that consumers know they have the option to contact an Ombudsman themselves, at no charge, to have the fairness of charges and default listings examined.”

While telecommunications service providers are required to inform consumers about the TIO as an avenue for dispute resolution, there is no such requirement on credit repair agencies. A recent review of complaints about credit management issues suggests about one in ten of these complaints are made by credit repair agencies on behalf of these consumers.

“Credit repair agencies bring credit default and debt dispute complaints to the TIO to resolve, and then charge the consumer,” Mr Cohen said. “Using a credit repair agency is definitely more expensive way for consumers already facing financial hardship to have credit default listings removed, and it can also take longer.”

The TIO has seen increasing complaints about credit management issues, including about disputed debts and credit default listings. In many cases, consumers were not aware they had been default listed and upon investigation by the TIO the service providers were unable to demonstrate they had followed the correct notification procedures and the defaults were removed.

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