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Lenders: Their responsibilities to you

The information you must be given

“Initial disclosure”: Information you must be given in advance

Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act 2003, ss 17, 32–35, Schedule 1

The lender must give you the following key information before you enter into the consumer credit contract (this is called “initial disclosure”):

  • the lender’s full name (including their trading name if this is different), their address, and their name and registration number on the financial services provider register
  • the initial amount owing
  • the amount of each payment you’ll make, and the number of payments
  • the credit limit
  • how much interest you’ll pay (including the annual interest rate) and how the interest will be calculated (see: “Interest and fees”)
  • any credit fees and charges you’ll have to pay, such as establishment fees, insurance fees and “break” fees (these are fees you’re charged if you repay the debt early – called “prepayment fees” in the Act)
  • a description of any security interest, including a description of the property that’s subject to the security and whether a disabling device will be attached to the property – for example, a remote-operated starter interrupter if the property is a car (see: “Use of disabling devices on goods”)
  • what happens if you miss payments, including any default interest charges or default fees you’ll have to pay
  • a statement of your right to cancel the contract during the “cooling off” period after you get this initial disclosure statement (see: “When you can cancel a credit contract”)
  • a statement of your right to ask the lender to change the terms of the credit contract if you face some unforeseen hardship (see: “Unforeseen hardship: Applying to have the contract terms changed”)
  • contact details for the dispute resolution scheme that the lender belongs to as a financial service provider (see: “Dispute resolution schemes”).

This information must be provided in writing in the form of a disclosure statement. The disclosure statement can be a single document or a number of related documents, and it can be included within the credit contract itself. The information must be clear, concise and accessible.

If you don’t get a disclosure statement with all this information, you can cancel the contract (see: “When you can cancel a credit contract”). If you cancel, the lender won’t be able to enforce the contract, and they may also face penalties (see: “Enforcing the credit contract laws against lenders”).

Ongoing information you must be given

Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act 2003, ss 18–26A

As well as providing an initial disclosure statement (see above), lenders must provide you with ongoing information as follows:

  • “Continuing disclosure” – The lender must give you a statement, every six months (or every 45 days for revolving credit contracts like credit cards), that includes information such as opening and closing balances for the relevant period, interest payments made, any fees or charges, and the amount and due date for your next payment. In some cases, this continuing disclosure isn’t required, like where you agree to access this information from the lender’s website and they keep the website up to date, or where the lender cannot locate you.
  • Changes – The lender must give you full written details of any changes to your contract (called “variation disclosure”). The lender must give you the information within a set time, but this time period will depend on whether it’s a change you’ve agreed to or one that the lender has a right to impose on you, under the contract.
  • Information on request – The lender must provide certain information if you make a written request for it (“request disclosure”) – for example, the amount currently owing, the amount required to fully pay off the contract, details of any changes made to the contract, or a copy of the contract. The lender can charge you a reasonable fee for doing this. They have to give you the information no later than 15 working days after they get your written request (or, if they charge a fee, no later than 15 working days after you pay the fee).
  • Transfer to new lender – The lender has 10 working days to tell you if they transfer their rights as lender under the contract to someone else. This includes giving you the new lender’s details and telling you how this transfer will affect you.

Note: Guarantors also have to be given certain information (see: “Guarantors”).

Standard form contracts and costs of borrowing

Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act 2003, ss 9J-9L

Lenders must make the following key information publicly available:

  • Standard form contracts – Lenders who use standard form contracts must make those contract terms publicly available. In general, a “standard form” contract is one that a lender has prepared in advance for all their contracts of one type.
  • Costs of borrowing under secured contracts – Lenders whose contracts involve a security interest in any of the borrower’s property, and a right to repossess it, must make all the costs of borrowing publicly available. This includes their credit fees (such as establishment fees, “break” fees and insurance fees), default fees, annual interest rates and default interest rates (see: “Interest and fees”).

Making this information “publicly” available means making it available in the following ways:

  • Websites – If the lender has a website, the information must be displayed prominently and clearly on the site.
  • Business premises, vehicles, and stalls – If the lender operates from a place that’s open to the public (for example, if they have an office reception area), they must prominently display a clear notice stating that a copy of the information is available free of charge if a person asks for it. They must also display this notice if they sell goods on credit from a vehicle, stand or stall (for example, from a truck shop).
  • Available on request – A lender must also provide a copy of the information immediately, and free of charge, if a person asks for it (whether or not the lender has a website or premises that are open to the public).

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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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