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Consumer rights & money

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If things go wrong

Repaying the loan

Problems with making your repayments

If you’re having trouble with your loan:

  • you can call a financial mentoring service or the Consumer Protection’s helpline at 0508 426 678, or
  • you may also be able to apply for a break from your repayments if something unexpected has happened (see below).

The MoneyTalks helpline (0800 345 123) gives you access to free financial mentoring and budgeting support. If you are having problems making your repayments you can contact them anonymously via phone, livechat, email or text. You can talk about your options if you are having problems repaying your loan. For more information go to: www.moneytalks.co.nz.

For more information about your options generally, see: “Where to go for more support” at the bottom of this page.

What happens if I can’t meet my payment commitments?

It is important to remember that if your circumstances change, call or get in touch with the lender, and let them know you are having trouble making your repayments. If you fail to meet your payment commitments or breach the credit contract in some other way, the lender may be able to repossess goods that you bought on hire purchase or that you put up as security for a loan (see: “Repossession”).

Note: If you’re not able to meet your payment commitments, you may be able to negotiate another arrangement with the lender – for example, making smaller payments over a longer period. If the debt is unsecured, you may be able to apply for a debt repayment order to enable you to pay the debt back over time and to stop the lender taking court action against you (see: “When you can’t pay your debts: Bankruptcy and other options”).

Unforeseen hardship: Applying to have the contract terms changed

When can I ask the lender to change my repayment obligations?

Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act 2003, ss 55, 56, 57A(3)(a), 59A

You can ask the lender to change the terms of the credit contract if:

  • you’re unable to meet your obligations because of some unforeseen hardship, and
  • you can reasonably expect to meet your obligations if the lender changes the contract terms.

Examples of unforeseen hardship are if you’re sick or injured, if you’ve lost your job or if your marriage or relationship has ended.

Changes to the contract can include extending the term of the contract (to reduce the amount of each payment) and postponing certain payments. Interest will continue to run if you extend the term of the contract.

You’ll need to put your request in writing. The lender can’t charge you a fee for dealing with your request.

When you’re not entitled to make a hardship request

Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act 2003, s 57

In some cases when you’ve already missed a payment, the lender doesn’t have to consider any hardship request you make. This applies if:

  • you’ve been behind on your payments for two months or more, or
  • four times in a row you’ve failed to make your payments on time, or
  • you’re behind two weeks or more after getting a repossession warning notice (see: “Repossession”).

However, even in those cases the lender must consider your hardship request if you’ve now fixed the problem.

The lender also doesn’t have to consider your request if you could reasonably have been expected to foresee – at the time you made the contract – that the hardship would prevent you making your payments.

Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act 2003, s 55(1)(b)

There’s also a restriction on how often you can make hardship requests on the same grounds. If you’ve already made a hardship request to the lender, you can’t make another one within the next four months unless it’s for a different reason.

What happens after I’ve made a hardship request?

Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act 2003, s 57A

After they receive your written hardship request, the lender must meet a number of deadlines:

  • They have to give you a written notice acknowledging your request within five working days after receiving it.
  • If they want more information from you, they have to ask for this within 10 working days after your request.
  • The lender must make a decision and notify you of it within 20 working days after your request (or, if they’ve asked for more information, then within 10 working days after getting the information or within 20 working days after asking for the information, whichever is later).

The lender must comply with the lender responsibility principles when they decide (see: “Responsible lending requirements”). If they refuse your request, they have to give you written reasons for this and must tell you about your right to take the issue to the courts or the Disputes Tribunal.

What can I do if the lender refuses my hardship request?

If the lender refuses your request, or if they don’t respond within the required deadlines, you can ask the courts or the Disputes Tribunal to change the terms of the contract (see: “The Disputes Tribunal”).

You can also complain to the lenders dispute resolution scheme if you disagree with the lender’s decision to decline your application for hardship (see: “Dispute resolution schemes”).

“Prepayment”: Paying off the debt early

Can I pay off the debt early?

Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act 2003, ss 49–54

A lender must accept early or extra payments (also called “part prepayments”) unless the contract says that the lender can refuse them. If a lender refuses an early payment, they must refund that payment to you as soon as possible.

A lender must accept full repayment at any time, and the contract can’t prevent this.

Note: The lender can charge you a “break fee” if the contract specifically allows this. A break fee (called a “prepayment fee” in the CCCF Act) can be charged if you pay off the credit early. The fee must be a reasonable estimate of the lender’s loss arising from the early payment (see: Interest and fees).

If you’re considering early repayment, ask the lender what it will cost to repay early (they may charge you a small fee for working out the figures). Make sure you check whether it’s worth it to repay early. Getting budgeting advice will help.

Applying for an early release of Kiwisaver funds

Can I apply for a release of my KiwiSaver funds for significant financial hardship?

You may be able to withdraw KiwiSaver funds early if you are experiencing significant financial hardship or serious illness. To apply, contact your KiwiSaver scheme provider and fill out a form to make a hardship withdrawal (or contact Inland Revenue if you’ve been in KiwiSaver for less than two months). If your application is successful, you can only withdraw your contributions and your employer’s contributions. You generally cannot take out any government money that has gone into your KiwiSaver.

Significant hardship only applies when you cannot meet your minimum living expenses like food or shelter and should be considered as a last resort. There are strict criteria to successfully apply for significant hardship and people can generally only get support to meet their minimum living expenses.

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Credit and debt

Where to go for more support

Legal information and support groups

Community Law

Your local Community Law Centre can provide you with free initial legal advice.

Find your local Community Law Centre online: www.communitylaw.org.nz/our-law-centres

Consumer Protection

The Consumer Protection website has useful information on a range of consumer topics. Consumer Protection is part of the Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment (MBIE).

Website: www.consumerprotection.govt.nz
Email: cpinfo@mbie.govt.nz
Phone: 0508 426 678 (0508 4 CONSUMER)

Consumer NZ

The Consumer NZ website provides a wide range of information on consumer issues and template letters you can use to write to traders to enforce your rights.

Website: www.consumer.org.nz
Email: info@consumer.org.nz
Phone: 0800 226 786 (0800 CONSUMER)

Commerce Commission

The Commerce Commission enforces the laws against misleading and deceptive conduct by traders (the Fair Trading Act) and the consumer credit legislation (the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act). The Commission provides information on these areas on its website.

Website: www.comcom.govt.nz
Email: contact@comcom.govt.nz
Phone: 0800 943 600

To make a complaint online: comcom.govt.nz/make-a-complaint

To read consumer rights in different languages: comcom.govt.nz/consumers/read-about-your-consumer-rights-and-business-responsibilities-in-another-language

Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB)

CAB provides free, confidential and independent information and advice. See CAB’s website for valuable information on a range of topics.

Website: www.cab.org.nz
Phone: 0800 367 222
Facebook: www.facebook.com/citizensadvicenz

Find your local CAB office: www.cab.org.nz/find-a-cab

FinCap and Money Talks

FinCap is a non-government organisation providing free financial mentoring services.

Website: www.fincap.org.nz
Email: kiaora@fincap.org.nz
Phone: 04 471 1420

MoneyTalks is a financial capability helpline operated by FinCap. The Financial Mentors offer free, confidential advice by phone, text, email and live chat.

Email: help@moneytalks.co.nz
Phone: 0800 345 123
Text: 4029
Live chat: www.moneytalks.co.nz

Insolvency and Trustee Service (ITS)

The ITS deals with bankruptcies, no-asset procedures, summary instalment orders and some company liquidations. Information about those processes is available on its website. The ITS is part of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).

Website: www.insolvency.govt.nz
Phone: 0508 INSOLVENCY (0508 467 658)

Dispute Resolution Schemes

There are four dispute resolution schemes for consumers dealing with lenders and other credit providers. Contact the scheme your service provider has registered with.

1. Financial Services Complaints

Website: fscl.org.nz
Phone: 0800 347 257

2. Insurance & Financial Services Ombudsman

Website: www.ifso.nz
Phone: 0800 888 202

3. Banking Ombudsman

Website: www.bankomb.org.nz
Phone: 0800 805 950

4. Financial Dispute Resolution Service

Website: www.fdrs.org.nz
Phone: 0508 337 337

Credit Reporting

Your credit record

There are three credit reporting companies that operate nationally in New Zealand. To check your record or correct any information, you’ll need to contact them all.

You’re entitled to a free copy of your credit record. You should make sure you choose the free option when you contact each company.

1. Centrix – www.centrix.co.nz – 0800 236 874
2. Illion – www.illion.co.nz – 0800 733 707
3. Equifax – www.equifax.co.nz – 0800 698 332

Personal Properties Securities Register (PPSR)

Search the PPSR register to see if there is any security interest registered against a vehicle. This can be done for a small fee by registering to check online.

Website: www.ppsr.companiesoffice.govt.nz

Privacy Commissioner

The Privacy Commissioner has information on your rights in relation to credit reporting and how to complain if you feel your rights have been breached.

Website: www.privacy.org.nz
Email: enquiries@privacy.org.nz
Phone: 0800 803 909

To make a complaint online: go to the website above and select “Your rights tab” then “Complaining to the Privacy Commissioner”

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