ACCC TARGETS DEBT COLLECTION FIRM ACM GROUP
3 June 2016,
THE ACCC is investigating the largest privately owned debt acquisition firm in Australia, alleging it engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct, harassment and coercion, and unconscionable conduct.
The Sydney firm under scrutiny, ACM Group, purchases debts from companies, including telecommunications companies, utility companies and banks, and then attempts to recover all or part of the debt.
The matters brought by the ACCC are in regards to dealings with two consumers in contravention of the Australian Consumer Law and/or the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act 2001.
The alleged conduct occurred between 2011-2015 regarding a resident in a care facility, and in September 2014 regarding a single parent with limited income. In each case, the debt being pursued had been sold to ACM by Telstra.
"Conduct affecting vulnerable consumers is an enforcement priority for the ACCC," says ACCC Chairman Rod Sims.
"The ACCC has brought these proceedings because the alleged conduct by ACM, in seeking to recover debts ACM had purchased from Telstra, was in our view contrary to accepted community values and standards of fairness in dealing with consumers, especially those who are vulnerable."
In 2012, in a case brought by ASIC, the Federal Court found that ACM had harassed and coerced consumers and engaged in 'widespread' and 'systemic' misleading and deceptive conduct when seeking to recover money.
The ACCC's current action relates to two instances of conduct which it considers particularly concerning.
The ACCC also alleges that ACM's conduct in dealing with each of these consumers was, in all circumstances, unconscionable.
The ACCC is seeking pecuniary penalties, declarations, injunctions, orders for an ACL compliance program, publication orders and costs.