What is financial difficulty?
You might unexpectedly find yourself in a situation where you are unable to meet your repayments under a credit facility. We call this situation financial difficulty. The causes of financial difficulty can include sickness, natural disaster, unemployment or over commitment. Both individuals and small businesses can experience financial difficulty.
What can you do now?
There are a number of things you can do now to start developing a plan to overcome your financial difficulty.
- Talk to a financial counsellor
Financial counsellors provide their services free of charge and can talk with you about what options might be available to you. You can contact a financial counsellor by calling 1800 007 007 or by going to the Financial Counselling Australia website.
- Complete a Statement of Financial Position
An important step in overcoming your financial difficulty is to get an understanding of your financial position and how much you can afford to pay towards your debts. To help with this, complete a Statement of Financial Position including details of your income, expenses and debts held with your Financial Services Provider (FSP) and other financial institutions. If you need help to do this, we encourage you to contact a financial counsellor.
- Talk to your Financial Services Provider
Contact your FSP and tell them about your situation. Hardship contact details for your FSP will be on their website, or you can look for your FSP’s contact details using our online member look up facility. Ask your FSP if they have a dedicated financial hardship customer representative that you can speak to. You may be able to come to an arrangement with your FSP that will help you get back on track.
- Make payments if you can
It is important that you make whatever payments you can, even if your FSP has not yet agreed to an arrangement. This is because interest will usually continue to accrue, and if you do not make payments your situation could get worse.
How can we help?
Sometimes you and your FSP might not able to agree on an arrangement that suits you both. If this happens, then FOS may be able to help. First, you will need to lodge a dispute with us.
When you lodge your dispute, we will ask you to tell us about your financial position and how you plan to repay the debt. We expect your FSP to work with you and try to assist you to overcome your financial difficulty. In most cases, we will try to resolve your dispute through negotiation or conciliation.
You can find out more about the process we follow for financial difficulty disputes by downloading our financial difficulty dispute resolution process map. This fact sheet outlines how FOS will consider your dispute under our Financial Difficulty process and how we will work with you.
- Help for consumers
If you are a consumer in financial difficulty you can find more information about how we can help here.
- Help for small business
If you are a small business in financial difficulty you can find more information about how we can help here.
Do you need more support or information?
- Getting extra help to access FOS
We are committed to making our service easy to access. You can find more information about how to get extra help to access FOS by downloading our Consumer Fact Sheet on Accessibility.
- Reading more about financial difficulty
You can read more about our approach to financial difficulty and some of the common issues that we see in disputes here.
- Other organisations that can help
You can find other organisations that can help you and other helpful links here.