That’s not my debt!

Henare lost his passport a few years ago. He reported it to the police at the time and hadn’t thought much about it since.

In early 2021, Henare obtained a copy of his credit file because he was thinking about applying for a home loan. He noticed entries on his credit file that he didn’t recognise – including credit default listings and applications for loans and credit cards that he didn’t make.

One of the credit defaults was reported by a debt collection agency. Henare contacted the debt collectors and told them that the debt was fraudulent, and he asked them to remove the credit default. The debt collectors told Henare he would need to provide a police report about the fraud, as well some other documents.

The debt was from a loan from a separate lender, and the debt collectors sent Henare some of the details they had about the debt. Henare had to make a complaint to the police about the fraud, but the debt collectors hadn’t sent Henare enough information about the debt in order for him to do this.

Over the next few months, Henare tried to get more information from the debt collectors, but they didn’t send him anything else. The debt collectors maintained that the debt was valid unless Henare could provide the necessary police report and other documents.

Henare complained to FSCL.

 

Dispute

Henare wanted the debt collectors to send him more information about the debt so that he could report the fraud and then get the credit default removed.

The debt collectors believed they had sent Henare everything he needed, so they were not willing to apply to have the credit default removed until he provided a police report.

 

Review

We contacted the debt collectors and explained that Henare needed more information about the original loan in order to report the fraud to the police.

The debt collectors sent us all the details they had about the debt, including the original application details they received about the loan from the lender.

We passed all the details on to Henare. Henare then reported the fraud to the police and submitted a fraud report to the lender who passed this on to the debt collectors. As a result, the debt collectors waived the debt and removed the credit default.

We recommended that the debt collectors pay Henare some compensation for the inconvenience they had caused – it had taken months to supply Henare with the information he needed, and this only happened after we got involved.

 

Resolution

The debt collectors agreed to pay Henare $500 compensation for the inconvenience they had caused him, and Henare agreed that this resolved his complaint.

 

Insights for consumers and participants

Identity theft can have a big impact on consumers. Consumers may only become aware that loans (and other types of credit) have been taken out fraudulently in their name once they are applying for credit legitimately - and this can result in long delays and declined applications.

Consumers then also need to take the relevant steps to have their credit information corrected, which can be very stressful as it may take some time and involve dealing with many different parties.

Lenders, as well as debt collectors, should take all reasonable steps to assist consumers who have alleged a debt has arisen due to fraud – including providing information that has been requested and amending inaccurate information in accordance with privacy laws and regulations.

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