22nd Apr 2014

Help with financial hardship

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Debbie McTaggart

Money troubles can’t always be managed on your own. There is a package of measures available which should help those experiencing financial hardship.

Banks view financial hardship as when a customer is willing but unable to temporarily meet their existing financial commitments. This could be because of unemployment, illness, or a relationship breakdown.

Financial hardship assistance is available for the period when the customer cannot meet their regular repayments, with a view to their financial position being restored. The assistance available depends on individual circumstances and each bank may offer a different solution. Some of the assistance measures may include restructuring or reducing payments, waiving penalty fees and in exceptional circumstances, freezing loans.

While all banks offer some kind of assistance, customers don’t always approach their financial institution as they are either too embarrassed, or don’t know that help is available. In order to promote the assistance available, the banking industry has committed to the following practices:

  • an industry guideline on financial hardship, which outlines what banks can do to help customers in need of assistance – download from www.bankers.asn.au
  • Doing it tough website which details the banking law changes and the 2013 Banking Code of practice, also lists contact numbers for the financial hardship teams at each institution 
  • fact sheet on financial hardship makes it easier for customers to understand what help is available and what steps to take 
  • easier access to information with all banks having an ‘Are you experiencing financial difficulty?’ button on their websites

 

If you are currently experiencing financial hardship, you should contact your bank directly, or access the information above as directed.





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