The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has outlined new standards Australian telcos will soon need to adhere to with their financial hardship policies.
In the Telecommunications (Financial Hardship) Industry Standard 2024 safeguards for people approaching their telco looking for financial hardship assistance will have an easier time accessing it. Under this, telcos must establish clear and accessible hardship standards.
“Telcos must do a better job of identifying those in need of payment assistance and provide a stronger range of support options,” ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin said.
“These new rules address a range of identified gaps in financial support for telco consumers.”
The changes from this new industry standard state that telcos will be required to determine if a customer is experiencing financial hardship before suspending their service. If they determine the customer is having a hard time financially, then they will be required to help keep the customer connected.
Additionally, under the Telecommunications Consumer Protection Code, consumers have new protections when it comes to having hardship defined and addressed. The definition has been broadened under the code, and telcos will be required to promote their hardship policies more directly to the customer.
Six different options for financial hardship assistance must be provided under the code, and the disconnection notice period has been bumped up to 10 days, while it was previously five, among other stringent requirements before a customer’s plan can be terminated, particularly for customers facing credit management action.
“Telecommunications services are essential to everyday living and at a time when a lot of Australians are doing it tough, it’s important customers are provided with real support to keep their services connected,” O’Loughlin added.
If you’re experiencing financial hardship, your telco can provide you with assistance.
The new rules will come into effect from March 29.
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