The Federal Court has ordered that Panthera Finance Pty Ltd pay $500,000 in penalties for unduly harassing three consumers over debts they did not owe and for misleading one of the three consumers.
The Court held that Panthera harassed three consumers to pay disputed debts despite being advised that they were not liable for the debts and, in the case of two of these consumers, placed an incorrect default listing on their credit rating files.
The Court also ruled that Panthera misled one of the consumers by telling them they needed to pay Panthera $100 to have a default listing removed from their credit file, even though the credit default listing was incorrect and could have been removed for free under the Privacy Act.
“We took this case because of the concerning way Panthera dealt with these consumers who did not owe any money,” ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said.
“All three consumers were subjected to repeated and intrusive calls from Panthera, and had to take multiple steps to prove they did not owe the alleged debt.”
“Businesses, particularly in the debt collection industry, are warned that harassing consumers is unacceptable under any circumstances and can result in significant penalties,” Ms Court said.
Panthera was also ordered by the Court to pay $100,000 as a contribution to the ACCC’s legal costs.
Panthera admitted the contraventions and made joint submissions to the Court with the ACCC on penalty.
Notes to Editors:
As part of this case, the Court has suppressed the names and details of consumers affected.
Panthera is a debt collection company which collects debts, on behalf of other businesses and by purchasing non-performing debt for significantly less than its face value and then attempting to recover the full amount.
Over the last two years around 100 people have complained to the ACCC about Panthera’s debt collection activities.
The ACCC first took court action against Panthera in July 2019.
Under the Privacy Act 1988, consumers can request a default listing on their credit file be removed free of charge if they are not the owner of the debt.