What should I do if I'm having trouble paying my utility account?
If you are having difficulty paying your utility account, you should call your energy provider.
- You should check that your concessions are up to date and applied to your account.
- Visit this link for information about payment difficulties: https://energyinfohub.org.au/p...
Look on your bill to make sure you are on the best plan that your provider can offer.
For the best offer from all energy companies, visit Energy Compare online - a free and independent service to compare energy providers in Victoria: https://compare.energy.vic.gov...
Remember, you can:
- Request your usage per fortnight/month in dollars from your provider
- Enter into a payment arrangement
- Request and apply for a Utility Relief Grant if you are eligible: https://services.dhhs.vic.gov....
Check out the simple guide on how to cut your energy costs: https://energyinfohub.org.au/s...
What should I do if I have received a disconnection notice?
In Australia there are rules about when and how you can be disconnected. Your energy provider must provide you with hardship assistance and give you notice before disconnection.
- Contact your provider
- Tell them you are in financial hardship
- Ask them not to disconnect you
- If they proceed with the disconnection contact EWOV
If you have an issue with your energy provider, you must give the company a reasonable opportunity to resolve the dispute itself.
- If you’ve tried but you can’t sort the problem out, the Energy and Water Ombudsman of Victoria (EWOV) can help you and the company to reach a resolution.
- EWOV is a free and independent service that resolves disputes between Victorians and their gas and electricity and water providers.
- You can visit their website here: https://www.ewov.com.au/EWOV
If you have an issue with your telecommunications provider, you must give the company a reasonable opportunity to resolve the dispute itself. If you’ve tried but you can’t sort the problem out, contact the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) – It has free and independent advice if you have an issue with your phone and/or internet providers
You can visit their website here: https://www.tio.com.au/
Tips about utilities
- Don’t use your credit card to pay your bills – this will only add to your debt
- Don’t be tempted to go to a payday (short term loan) lender. You could end up further in debt and in even more financial difficulty. Instead speak to your creditor to ask for hardship, or speak to a Financial Counsellor.
How can a financial counsellor help?
Financial Counsellors help people who are experiencing financial difficulty. They are skilled professionals who will guide you through your options and help you plan your way out of debt.
They may be able to assist you by:
- Doing a full assessment of your financial situation, including regular income and expenditure, assets and liabilities, to help you fully understand your position, create a budget and put a plan into place
- Providing advice on how to negotiate with your creditors, government agencies or other providers
- Negotiating directly with your creditors in certain circumstances
- Providing advice about what options, rights and responsibilities you may have
- Referring you to other services you may need, such as legal services, crisis food and accommodation services, and health services
What can a financial counsellor provide information about?
They can provide information and advice about:
- Credit and debt-related matters
- The rights of debtors
- How to lodge complaints with various ombudsman schemes if you feel you are not being treated fairly and whether you should have been given a loan in the first place
- Working out a realistic payment plan for debts
- How to access other specialist support services, including gambling, family support, personal counselling, legal aid and emergency relief
It’s then up to you to make the decisions about how to manage your situation with the advice you’ve been given.