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Shield Mercantile

Hardship Policy

A Guideline to hardship National Consumer Credit Protection Act 2009 – Section 72

Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to confirm Shield Mercantile’s commitment to ethical conduct and compliance with our statutory obligations under section 72 of the National Consumer Credit Protection Act 2009 (s72 NCCP Act).

A consumer who is unable to meet their repayments under a credit contract or lease can give the credit provider notice (a hardship notice).

Scope

This Policy applies to all operational staff and those who support staff who deal with customers.

Policy Statement

It is Shield Mercantile’s policy to provide all its customers who are suffering hardship with assistance to meet their contractual obligations.

As a responsible organisation Shield Mercantile does not intend to cause hardship to customers in need of assistance, regardless of whether they are covered by the NCCP Act or not.

Accordingly, in its absolute discretion, Shield Mercantile will consider variations to all customer contracts where necessary, to assist the customer.

Where Shield Mercantile is not the owner of the contract, it will make recommendations to its client on matters of hardship.

Shield Mercantile will ensure that:

Its staff are trained:

  • To understand their obligations under s72 of the NCCP Act
  • To identify when a customer is suffering from hardship and help where appropriate or advise the compliance team of the customer’s request
  • To process and response to hardship requests in accordance with the time frames set out in the NCCP and RG 271
  • All customers should expect to be treated with dignity and respect

Departments Responsible for implementation

  • All Collection Departments
  • All Arrangement Departments
  • All Administration Departments
  • All Quality Assurance Departments
  • All Compliance Departments

Procedure

The most common way a customer will request hardship will be over the phone, often in response to a debt collection or initial first contact call.

There must be a reasonable cause for the financial hardship. A reasonable cause must impact on a customer’s income in some way.

Examples of reasonable causes may be:

  • Economic hardship
  • Domestic and or Family violence
  • Natural disaster
  • Relationship breakdown
  • Maternity/paternity leave
  • Over commitment with other accounts
  • Incarceration or homelessness
  • Gambling
  • Drug or alcohol abuse and volatile substance abuse
  • Loss of employment, business failure, low income, or casual income
  • Mental illness, Intellectual disability, or cognitive impairment

Before we will consider a hardship application, a statement of position must be completed.

Within 21 days after the day of receiving a customer’s hardship notice, we will send a Hardship letter, requiring the customer to give specified information within 21 days of the date of the hardship notice.

What if we are unable to help?

Shield Mercantile is an Australian Credit Licence holder this requires us under the ASIC RG271 and RG 267 regulations and the NCCP Act require us to be a member of AFCA. AFCA is the independent the External Dispute Resolution scheme that we are a member of who manage and handle complaints and disputes that remain unresolved including hardship.

Continuous improvement

This policy is a living document, meaning that our Hardship Policy and our programs are continuously being reviewed and revised to ensure that they remain relevant and useful.

References

National Consumer Credit Protection Act 2009

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