Sunday, 9 November 2014

Welcome- a little about me

Before I start I will answer the most common question I am asked on a daily basis- Why do you do this for free. Simple answer because I can and it makes me feel good. If I can make just one persons journey thru the debt minefield a little easier then that will be a huge win for me. 

Hello my name is Nigel. First and foremost I would like to state that I have no experience with blogging,telling stories or giving advice. What you see is what I am. Please feel free to offer me advice and even criticise if you wish. I will not tolerate abuse or trolls if you want to do this bugger off and start your own blog thing. 

Up to a few years ago I ran a highly successful business with a multi million dollar turnover. My family wanted for nothing and things were great- or so it seemed. I was so busy working within the business I failed to have a good look from the outside. Some not so clever decisions and an "it will be ok" attitude really did not help. Add to this an accountant who loved money( in his pocket) and a solicitor who had no real idea and I was really in trouble. The worst part of the whole deal was not letting my partner in on the dark reality that we were going broke.

I suffered at the hands of every scam and ripoff known trying to get back on top of things. The we will fix it for you buddy genius types saw me coming. By the time I finally admitted to myself it was too late I had lost everything. I was so broke I had to borrow money from my elderly parents to fuel the old bomb. Unlike some rich folk who hide behind companies and move money around for use later I had nothing no family, yes they ditched me also, no home - living with my parents at age 50+ was not good.

I had two choices.
The first was curl up in the corner and hide from the reality of what had happened- which I did for the first six months or so of my bankruptcy. I was too afraid to step outside in case someone saw me- I was so afraid that one of the people to whom I owed money was waiting around the corner. My life was a living hell. I had nothing no money no family no friends not a thing.
Option two was get a job and start to live again. Everyone makes mistakes. I did get a job and also started to see a doctor and psychologist to help with my fear of the public. Slowly but surely I also started to speak to my family about what had happened. My wife is a wonderful person and does understand why I tried to hide what had happened BUT I can still see the hurt in her eyes when we talk about it. It has taken over 5 years but we are back together - even the kids have finally started to admit they have a father.

During the time I spent alone locked in that room I did make myself a promise. I vowed to use my knowledge to try and help others in any I could. Debt collection is an area where I have gained particular experience. During those dark days I managed to keep the sharks at bay with a few simple but very practical ideas given to me by an elderly gentleman who was once a top notch debt collector for a somewhat unfavorable large firm who I will not mention at this stage. Selling the house and repaying that loan on my terms was also a huge acheivement. I will go into the detail of that elsewhere.

These days aside from running this blog and my free email advisory service I enjoy working for someone else- much less pressure- and also spend as much time as possible with my wonderful wife. The kids have pretty much all left home now but we still get to see each other on a regular basis. I am convincing myself there is life after debt and also there is so much more to life then work and big houses . As for the guilt of failure well that is a work in progress- maybe one day I will be able to repay the debts.

Please note that all my advice on this blog is taken from my own personal experiences and all situations are different. If you would like me to offer my thoughts then please send an email to I will answer all requests personally. 

Thursday, 2 August 2012

ACM Group debt collection or harassment

 ACM Group Australia

WARNING-these people are ruthless and very rude-they prey on your lack of knowledge

They are known as ACM Group. Thay are a debt purchasing and collection service who claim to be highly professional. Following is the story of the experience of a close personal friend who had the misfortune of dealing with this "professional" debt collection company.
The debt is question was a Telstra phone account belonging to Mr J. The debt of about $1500 was included in his bankruptcy and hence no longer payable or enforcable. Telstra had never made any attempt to contact Mr J or his wife who was a contact on the account and had other accounts with telstra. Approx 18 months after the bankruptcy Mrs J had reason to check her credit file which indicated a default had been placed by Telstra for this account. Long story made short Telstra denied the listing and the outstanding account even though someone had placed the default. After spending months of dealing with Telstra to no avail Mr J referred the matter to the Telecommunication Ombudsman.
After going through the process which took about 2 months the ombudsman determined that the account was indeed in the name of Mr J and the default had been incorrectly placed on the Mrs file and it was removed. No explaination or apology was ever received from Telstra.
A further 6 months passed when Mrs started to receive calls to her mobile from someone leaving messages saying she needed to contact them urgently with regards to reference number xxxxxxxx which just happened to match the Telstra account number. This of course caused her to panic and she rang back immediately to get some answers. At first the company would not identify who they were only that they were representing Telstra for an unpaid account. Once realising what was going on Mrs asked them to fax the details of the account so she could verify as she was on the understanding this account belonged to Mr who was now bankrupt. The consultant became rather upset on being questioned and promised to forward the account. 
The calls continued at least every two days for the following month but despite continuous request no account information was forwarded. At one point their 12yo daughter was receiving calls to her mobile as well as being told on the home phone that mum had to pay her bills. During this Telstra was contacted many times and of course same story pass the buck no records ect ect till one day someone admitted the debt had been sold to ACM Group for an undisclosed sum. Telstra could no longer give any details as the debt was no longer owing to them.
Month later a copy of a bill arrived at Mrs home address-interesting as this was never given out. More interesting the account showed her current details at the top even though she had only lived there for a few months. Unfortunantly Mr & Mrs could not produce an old copy of the account as these had been destroyed when the family business went bust.
The calls and harassment had become so bad that it was decided to take the matter to a solicitor for some advice. It was agreed that he would send a letter advising ACM that they were beaching the privacy act and all contact now needed to be in writing. It will be noted that Mr & Mrs received no further contact from ACM group and a default was relisted on Mrs credit file immediately. All contact with Telstra was met with total denial of any debt or responsibility. 
A formal complaint was made with the complaints division of ACM group which was met with the simple reply amounting to no more than do what you like he (the ombudsman) cannot help you. A new complaint was lodged with the telecommunications ombudsman a few days later. The proceedure took about 6 months to complete but ended with a written apology from Telstra including the removal of the default and a guarantee the debt was now finalised. The apology from ACM Group was never received.
December 2011-  this mob never gives up. Calls have started again. Pay within 3 days or the amount will be default listed. Better prepared for them this time. Calmly explained that this bill no longer exists which we can prove with letters from Telstra. ACM group operator was not interested and actually accused us of forging the documents. You can see why they will not put anything in writing.These call were being made at least twice a day and the caller was very rude.
Made a call to the contact we have a the TIO(ombudsman) who said they would have Telstra contact us within a few days. This happened with 24 hours. Telstra said they would contact ACM and we should notify them if the calls continued. At this stage nothing further has been heard.

Be careful when having any type of dealings with this company. Everything you say is recorded to their advantage. Never admit to anything and insist that the relevent information be sent to you by email only. Tell them unless this is done you are not prepared to act any further on a debt which you know nothing about. If you do not have an email account set one up on google gmail it is free and simple. I always use a separate account for this type of thing. When dealing with them for the first time remember do not panic and try to remain calm. They cannot take your house or personal items until a very long and tiresome process has been followed. If a default is listed on your credit file without following due proceedure it will have to be removed anyway which costs them money. Take time to think about your next move and tell them to call you back at a time that suits you.
WARNING do not just try to ignore them. They will continue to call on any and every number they can associate with you including work and family. I have been told they have even used social media to gain access to people. At the moment I am dealing with about 10 complaints against this firm and will take the required action if need be. If you are threatened or feel unsafe always call your local police they can advise what to do. 

Monday, 5 December 2011

Internet safety for your kids!!

Understanding the risks

Sexual predators
When you meet someone in person it is easier to be certain that the person you are talking with is who they say they are or is at least the same age and gender as they say. This is more difficult on the internet. It is easy to create a fake profile online.

Children tend to be more naïve and trusting and are more likely to fall prey to strangers posing as children their own age.

Sexual predators frequent chat rooms looking for children to target. They develop a friendship and may spend months "grooming" a child towards sharing information, photographs or meeting up.

Talk to your children about the risks and what to be wary off. Help them to feel comfortable talking to you about their online friends and encourage them to tell you if anyone asks them for photographs or to meet them in person, particularly it you don’t know them or haven’t met them or their parents before.

Report abuse or suspicious activity through the ThinkUKnow website.

If you know about a child who is in immediate danger or risk, call 000 or contact your local police.

Inappropriate content
There is a lot of material on the Internet that is inappropriate, particularly for children. There are a number of things you can do to help prevent your children inadvertently on intentionally accessing this content.

Internet content filters are a valuable tool for managing your children’s access to online material and activities that you believe are harmful. They can be used to help filter offensive web content and can be individually set for different members of your family. Some internet content filters can set time limits for online use as well as help you monitor the online activities of your children.

While you can use filtering software to restrict the type of websites your children can access, they will not stop everything. Taking an active role in talking with your kids about the risks, answering their questions or concerns and being present will encourage them to come to you if they do come across an inappropriate site.

Having the computer in a common area, like the family room or the kitchen will make it easier for you to monitor their use of the internet without having to be looking over their shoulder.

Report offensive internet content to the ACMA at, or via the Cybersafety Help button on the Cybersmart website at

Mobile phones and the internet provide an easy and often anonymous way for kids to bully and intimidate other children or to circulate hurtful gossip or embarrassing photos or video. While bullying used to be restricted to contact at school SMS, email, instant messaging and chat rooms can be used to reach children anywhere including at home.

Talk to your children and encourage them to let you know if they feel bullied or intimidated. Ignoring the problem won’t make it go away, and there are steps that they can take to address the cyber-bullying. What is most important is that they tell someone.
As in the real world, encourage them not to respond when someone is being aggressive or hurtful online. This can only make it worse.
If someone is posting anything about your child online, especially personal information, contact your Internet Service Provider. Most likely your provider can have the information removed.
Report cyber-bullying to your child’s school. If you have serious concerns for your child’s safety, contact your local police.
Protecting personal information and privacy
If you are allowing your children to communicate with others online talk to them about how important it is that they keep personal information private. Encourage them not to give out their or your e-mail address.

If they have their own email or other online accounts make sure that they have a strong username and password that doesn’t reveal anything personal. For example the user name ‘Katy1998’ could reveal name, gender and age.
Educate your children about managing spam. Encourage them to delete any messages they get from anyone they don’t know.
Ensure your anti-virus and anti-spyware software is up to date.
If your children tell you that they have given out personal information online, contact your Internet Service Provider or the site where the information is posted to see what you can do to have it removed.

Steps for you to protect your children online

Here are some basic steps for you to protect your children online:

block inappropriate content
increase your online security and privacy
set up your computer to only access approved websites and email addresses
monitor where your children go online
Here are some additional steps for you to protect your children online:

explore the internet with your children – consider using safe zones and exploring child-friendly websites. Bookmark websites for them that you have approved
discuss the kinds of sites that are okay to explore, and those that are not. Let your children know that not all websites are suitable and if they encounter a site that makes them feel uncomfortable, they should leave the site immediately, either by clicking on ‘back’ or closing the browser altogether
reassure your children that they won’t be denied access to the internet if they report seeing inappropriate content
monitor and supervise internet use by having the computer in a visible place in your home
for older children, consider tools that filter access to chat rooms and prevent giving out personal information
check to see if your ISP is Family Friendly by looking for a lady bird logo on their website. These ISPs must adhere to the Internet Industry Association codes of practice. They offer information and online tools to help parents and children use the internet in a fun and safe way.