New telco rules to support customers in financial hardship in force from tomorrow

Dept of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications

The Albanese Government is making it mandatory for telcos to better support customers struggling to pay their phone and internet bills, with new industry rules coming into effect from Friday.

The new Financial Hardship Standard – developed by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) at the Government’s direction – means telcos must take all reasonable steps to proactively identify customers who may be experiencing financial hardship, ensure they provide appropriate support, and prioritise keeping customers connected.

The Standard replaces the rules on financial hardship contained in the Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code, and provides the ACMA with strong enforcement powers to ensure telcos are following through on their obligations.

Practical improvements include:

  • Requirements to determine whether a customer is experiencing financial hardship, and if so, prioritising keeping them connected;
  • Greater promotion of information to consumers on financial hardship assistance;
  • Telcos being required to offer customers at least six different options for assistance, including payment plans

The safeguards cover goods and services provided by telcos, including mobile phones, mobile services, as well as internet and voice services used by individuals and small businesses.

With remaining connected crucial to the lives of many people, the changes will ensure Australians – include those most vulnerable – have stronger supports in place.

The Government first announced its intention to introduce the new rules last year, and acknowledges the constructive engagement of industry throughout this process.

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