Who can you contact?
Often, phone, mobile and internet providers do not give out financial hardship contact details directly to customers, even if they know there is a problem with the bill. However, many financial counsellors know the systems well. Financial counsellors may also know other services you can use as well as other forms of assistance you could be eligible for. This is another reason why contacting a financial counsellor can be really useful.
To contact a financial counsellor call 1800 007 007.
Financial Counseling Australia has also set up a helpful website for their National Debt Helpline.
Alternatively, we have contact details for the three main telecommunications providers in Australia listed below. You'll also find information on the hardship policies of these providers.
National Children's and Youth Law Centre
The National Children's and Youth Law Centre offers a free legal service for Australian children and young people that provides legal advice, information and referrals by email. If you are under 25 years old and need legal advice about aspects of your phone contract or other associated issues, such as debt, you can access the service here: http://www.lawstuff.org.au/lawmail
More info on hardship
Financial Counselling Australia – get in touch with a Financial Counsellor
Debt self help tools – try this handy tool kit
Emergency information – The ABC is Australia's official emergency broadcaster and has links to survival planning and other prevention strategies
Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) – The TIO is a fast, free and fair service that helps resolve telephone and internet complaints.
Financial Rights Legal Centre - some fantastic information to help you find the best help when in debt and how to avoid dodgy credit solutions.
The TIO, Australian telcos and consumer representatives have worked together to develop principles to guide a best practice approach by the industry to dealing with customers in financial hardship.
Managing situations where a customer is in financial hardship effectively and appropriately is not only potentially good for the telco’s business, it is the right thing to do. Responding to Customers in Financial Hardship: Principles and Practices for Telecommunications Providers was published in June 2014. The purpose is to allow customers in financial hardship to stay connected to essential telecommunications while helping them pay their bills.
Call Optus on 1800 505 201. Financial counsellors have been provided with the direct number for the Optus Financial Advisory Support Team.
Optus considers you to be experiencing financial hardship if you are unable to pay bills, rather than being unwilling to do so. Financial hardship can arise from a variety of situations. Hardship can be either of limited duration or long term. To illustrate, several of the common causes are listed below. Hardship can result from a number of factors including:
- Loss of employment by the consumer or family member.
- Family breakdown.
- Illness including physical incapacity, hospitalisation, or mental illness of the consumer or family member.
- A death in the family.
- Abuse of the service by customer (e.g. from use of 190X numbers, data).
- Abuse of the service by a third party leaving the customer unable to pay the account.
- Natural Disaster.
Optus will consider your situation on a case by case basis and work with you to tailor a solution to suit your needs. We will regularly review how arrangements are working and stay in contact with you while we are managing your account.
Call Telstra on 13 22 00. Financial counsellors have been provided with the direct number for the Telstra Specialised Assistance Team (SAT).
Customer situations are considered on a case-by-case basis via direct discussions with the team. Arrangements are based upon tailoring a solution to best meet a customer's particular short or longer term needs at the time and are reviewed regularly.
Call Vodafone on 1527 from your Vodafone mobile or 1300 650 405 from any other phone.
You can also download the Vodafone financial hardship form [pdf - 134kB].
All front line staff and Collections Advisors are trained to identify customers who could potentially fall under Vodafone's Financial Hardship policy. The indicators to identify Financial Hardship are:
- There has been a change in circumstance that has resulted in the customer's inability to pay their account. Examples of this are loss of employment, relationship breakdown, illness, bereavement, natural disaster.
- The customer is unable to pay the amount owed within 3 months.
- The customer is unable to pay, rather than unwilling to pay