Werribee leads credit complaints


By Alesha Capone

More than 1200 Wyndham residents have lodged complaints about consumer loans, credit cards and housing finance across a period of more than two years.

Consumer group CHOICE last week released an analysis of 31,000 complaints which the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) received about credit products, between November 2018 and December 2020.

The complaints included concerns about irresponsible lending, charging of incorrect fees, poor customer service, fraud and unfair terms and conditions.

Residents of the 3030 postcode, which includes Werribee, Werribee South and Point Cook, made 682 complaints to the AFCA – the highest amount of credit-related complaints in the state.

The 3043 postcode, which covers Tullamarine, Gladstone Park and Gowanbrae, was the second-highest with 606 complaints.

The 3029 postcode, which takes in Hoppers Crossing, Tarneit and Truganina, recorded 587 complaints, the third-highest amount.

CHOICE released the figures last Tuesday, the day a Senate committee were due to decide on a proposed federal government bill to roll back safe lending laws.

More than 33,000 people, 125 organisations and 100 experts have released an open letter calling on the federal government to refrain from rolling back the laws, which were designed to protect people from the sorts of lending practices seen during the global financial crisis and Banking Royal Commission.

Organisations which have signed the letter include WEstjustice, AMES Australia, the Brotherhood of St Laurence, the Salvation Army, Anglicare and the Financial Sector Union.

CHOICE chief executive Alan Kirkland said that “repealing safe lending laws is an extraordinary thing to do when many Australians are struggling in the wake of COVID-19”.

“The banks promised they’d clean up their act after the shame of the Royal Commission hearings but over 31,000 credit complaints show there are still huge problems in the system,” he said.

“Right now, ABS data shows that mortgage lending is at record highs. This is fuelling a housing boom that is pushing home ownership out of reach of many more Australians.

“Scrapping safe lending will land many people with large debts they can’t afford and take away their ability to receive justice.”

The federal government bill to roll back safe lending laws could be voted on as early as this week.