Legal action against expat student loan defaulters

Legal action is about to begin against hundreds of New Zealand expats who have not made any effort to repay millions of dollars in student loans.

From today, authorities will start sending letters to Australian-based defaulters warning legal action is being taken as a result of their ongoing refusal to attention their debt.

The letters will be the first step in what will eventually end in court proceedings - and a possible bad credit rating - if action is not taken to start making repayments straight away.

Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce said authorities would be targeting expats "seen to be deliberately flouting their opportunities to pay back" their loans.

People who have "significant sums of money" owing will also be targeted.

"It's about people meeting their responsibilities and that's what's really important so we will be working on this pretty hard," he said.

"People who are based overseas are taking, on average, 14 years to pay back their debts and that affects the sustainability of the whole student loan system." The move is the latest in a campaign, targeting expats in Australia, that started last October.

At that time, a total of $325 million was owed to IRD in overdue student loans - more than half of which was from people living overseas.

Just over $15 million was owed by 3500 expats in Australia - 1000 of who were targeted directly by letter and phone and indirectly by online marketing campaigns. Since then, almost $2 million has been repaid by 643 borrowers. For those who do not start making repayment the matter will end up in court.

 


Targeting defaulters

• $15m owed by 3500 Australian-based expats when campaign started in October.
• 1000 targeted directly by letter and phone.
• $818,392 paid back by 243 as a result.
• $1.09m repaid by 400 borrowers after online campaign.

 

- The New Zealand Herald

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