Introduction to Debt

Contributed by Mary Hawkins, DCLS, for the NT Law Handbook, as amended by Elizabeth Samra of Consumer Law Centre of the ACT and current to March 2022

A debt exists when one person (the debtor) owes money to another (the creditor). Unpaid electricity or telephone bills, school fees, personal loans, credit cards and fines are some common examples of debt.

This chapter explores the options available to debtors and outlines the debt collection process. Broadly speaking, a debtor who receives a request for payment should ask the following questions:
  • Am I liable for the debt?
  • Can I afford to pay the debt?
  • What sort of action can the creditor take to recover the debt and what sort of action are they likely to take?
  • What action can I take if I can't pay the debt?

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