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A Current Affair -

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(generated from captions) Hope you have a great weekend. A Current Affair Thank you and welcome to on this chilly Friday night. Tonight - of debt collectors, ruining lives, the bully boy tactics and they don't back off, the wrong target. even when they've got I

was quite nervous and shaking It

could happen to a ybody. Suddenly, could happen to anybody.

could happen to a ybody. Suddenly, could happen to anybody. Suddenly, coul happen to a ybody. Suddenly,

you could be chose by a debt could happen to anybody. Suddenly, you ou d be ch se by a d t you could be chose by a could happen to anybody. Suddenly,

Also tonight, crazy bureaucracy. collector.

doesn't exist. They reckon this grandmother battle to regain her identity. So now she faces a costly legal Plus - car insurance. but paying out on a claim They're quick to take your money, can be a very different story. to look like their favourite stars. And Aussie women spending up big This program is captioned live. employed by private debt collectors. First, the heavy-handed tactics What they do is buy up bad debts or other companies. which are held by banks who hasn't paid up. Then they go chasing the person getting it right. But they don't seem to care about agencies have What right do your collection

to frighten innocent people? No-one's frightened.

I was really, really upset. I was quite nervous and shaking. to bully people? Are your debt collectors trained No, definitely not. people? Are they trained to intimidate No. really quite nasty, very nasty. Very, very aggressive,

Do they ever make threats? No. Yes, they do. doesn't even have to be yours. And the debt they threaten to collect How much are you accused of owing? It was $1,900 at that stage. be your debt? How did you know it couldn't

Well, I've never had a Mastercard ever from the National Australia Bank. or borrowed money chases money for the NAB Accounts Control Management Services litigation officer, Kelly pay immediately or be bankrupt. Sophie Wotherspoon demanded Julie and threatening. She was very, very rude was bullying the wrong person. Problem was Sophie Wotherspoon and my second name is Anne, My first name is Julie was a full name, Julie-Anne. but this name on the letter and a passport She's given you a driver's licence that you're after. proving that she is not the woman we'd rectify it. Well, if she's not the woman, threatening letters, phone calls? Then why is she still getting Well, I don't know...

at the collection agency. David Oats is an executive they've got the wrong person. But your staff have admitted Well, we don't know that. that's the truth, Well, I'm telling you is the person you're after. Julie-Anne Kelly Kelly with the middle name of Anne. The person you're billing is a Julie has taken over the harassment - Now another arm of the company Advanced Credit Management than $2,000, has now increased the debt to more but is offering a 35% discount

immediately. if Julie hands over the cash We'll sort it out. undue stress. You're putting her through You're saying you'll sort it out now. we're on your doorstep. You're only sorting it out because for a long time. This woman has tried to sort it out at her house. She's been told a summons will arrive Right. She's a nervous wreck. Can you understand that? RINGING Every time the phone rings, to be on the other end. you're wondering who's going CHIMING Or if the doorbell rings. "If someone comes looking for me, I've said to my kids, "don't answer the doorbell, issued to me "because I don't want a summons "when I shouldn't be getting one." If a consumer disputes a debt continues to ring them and the debt collector just that's just harassment, and harass them, it's in breach of the law. it's as simple as that. They shouldn't do it, the Consumer Credit Legal Centre. Katherine Lane is from It could happen to anybody. is just have a similar name All you need to do be chased by a debt collector. and then suddenly you could How many other Julie-Anne Kellys of these letters to? are they sending copies

Julie-Anne Kelly in Australia - These are the addresses of every all 76 of them. was sent to all of these women Now, imagine if a letter of demand paid up. and let's say a third of them a collection agency nearly $50,000. That original $1,900 debt would make would you expect me to pay it back? If I borrowed money from you,

Absolutely. That's all we ask. the money. But this person doesn't owe Well, if they don't owe the money, contacting them. then my staff should not be Bert Vieira in the lap of luxury Making people pay keeps on the Sydney waterfront. agencies targeting Julie. He's the owner of the two collection people. Your staff have been threatening No, my staff do collections in Australia does. the same as every public company So bullying is OK then? No. I know very little about the debt. All I know really deducted again next month. is that my salary is going to be of Paul Faure's monthly salary Without warning, $3,500 was taken out to his employer, Channel Nine. after a court order was sent Is it your debt?

Well, that's it - I don't know. bought the debt from Westpac Bank Brisbane-based collector Axess

until he asks for it in writing. but refuses to reveal details Were you served with a summons? No, nobody came to our door at all. whatsoever? So you know nothing about this debt (both) No. You've never had any phone calls? No. Any letters? was incurred in the 1990s, Axess has disclosed the debt even living in Australia then. but Paul and his family weren't They're going to repossess the car, from this house tomorrow. they're about to kick us We have seven days. Yeah, and we don't even know if it's our debt. How common is bullying? I think the debt collection industry is probably known as the worst and I'm sure it happens.

Debt collector Sonia Ferlauto is the president of the industry's governing body, Mercantile Agents Limited. Is it fair that we're guilty until we prove ourselves innocent?

Unfortunately, we need to prove it. Why is it up to me to prove anything to you? It's not my debt. Why should I kowtow to you? Look, at the end of the day we want to resolve that situation

so if we can both come together, get the information, and then we'll just move on and leave that person alone. Will you stop the threats made by your staff, sir? It is wrong because innocent people are being victimised. We just keep praying. I don't know what to do. Amanda Paterson there. David Oats from Advanced Credit Management promised us he would have an answer on Julie Kelly's case by "close of business" today. Surprise, surprise - all he will now tell us is that his agency is investigating. Meanwhile, Axess, the agency pursuing Paul Faure, refused to comment on their activities. And, if you've got a complaint about the way someone is doing business let us know.

Give us a call or send us an email.

Alright, here's the kind of crazy situation that gets bureaucracy a bad name. This elderly lady has been told by officialdom that she does not exist. And the only way she'll get back her identity is to pay out a fortune in legal fees. It's been really devastating. I just feel that I've got no identity, or I just don't exist. Meet 76-year-old Bernie Ponder. At least that's who she says she is. Are you Bernie Ponder? I am, I am. For nearly a year, this kindly great-grandmother h r identity. has been trying to prove her identity. Surely, for every rule they make there's an exception. I mean, you can see I am not a terrorist - I hope.

I can see that. If it wasn't so serious, this story would be laughable. It is is a nightmare and it's just going round and round and round and round. It all began when thieves stole Bernie's handbag from the Gold Coast home she shares with her husband of 57 years, Ken. Of course, a lady's purse has everything in it, all my identity papers and whatnot. It was only when she went to get her driver's licence replaced that it all started to unravel. She discovered her birth was never registered by her parents. When we went there, they said there's no way, you must have a birth certificate, although I've held a licence for 50 years.

I said, "Where do we go now?" They said, "You have to get a birth certificate." They kept saying, "You have to get I said, "We can't get a birth certificate." "Well, that's it - you can't get a licence." As simple as that. Because she was born in NSW,

Bernie decided to enlist the aid of her daughter-in-law in Sydney, Sharon, who tracked down some documentation. Actually, we have a baptismal certificate for her, so she was barely a month old. And that's still not enough? It's still not enough because there is no proof of her birth date, that she was actually born on the date that her parents told the priest. The NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages has steadfastly refused to budge. Well, they wanted the name or similar of the midwife who might have attended the birth, or the doctor who attended, or the hospital that we were in. I mean, 76 years ago, you don't know those things and those people would be all dead at any rate. At family's local MP even wrote to the Prime Minister but was told it's a State problem, not a Federal issue. It just seems that we keep coming up against a brick wall. The whole situation is ludicrous. surely you could do something in my late stages of life to get me an identity. There is something radically wrong somewhere that they can't help a citizen of Australia - gee, heavens above!

I think the whole thing is just bloody terrible. I just can't understa d it. The family's now been told that their only option is to prove her identity in court,

and that will cost thousands of dollars. I can't provide them with anything more than I have provided so are we are going to spend $10,000 and still not have a court order for a birth certificate to be issued? This is clearly a case of bureaucracy gone mad.

Even though the government refuses to acknowledge Bernie Ponder is who she says she is, somehow she's still able to claim the aged pension.

So obviously somewhere in the system you exist?

Oh, yes, I must do, but I don't feel as if I do. On the one hand the department - the government - are saying, "Yes, this woman exists, and yes, she is this age."

And yet on the other, they won't give her a piece of paper as proof of that. Next month, Bernie and Ken are moving to a Sydney retirement village to be closer to the family.

Only recently Bernie was told she's terminally ill with motor neuron disease. The real irony of it all is that she may die without her birth certificate, but her birth date will be on her death certificate. I know I've got a limited time to go

and I'd just sort of like to know that I can die in peace and everything is fixed up.

I think the whole thing is absolutely disgusting, disgusting. That's one of the strongest words I can say, it is disgusting, that this poor lady here, just got a little while to go and she can't go to Sydney and die in peace. Don't worry, darl, don't worry. The Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages won't comment on specific cases. But they say they have to make "exhaustive checks of all available information" before they can verify birth details. They need to do that to prevent identity crime. OK, school canteens have been clamping down on the sale of sweets and snack foods for quite a while. Well ,now, the move to ban so-called junk food is even being extended to school fundraising. I think we're just promoting too much crap. I think children eat enough junk food and it's hard enough keeping them healthy and I don't think schools need to promote that. It's another bad report card for our schools. First, they were marked down over tuckshop menus. Now even the treats schools use to fundraise are scoring poorly. It's such a powerful advertising tool via the child so they're being taught that that's OK and that's a normal part of life to be eating those foods

in large volumes. Nutritionist Susie Burrell, from the Dietitians Association, wants to expel junk food from fund raising. One in four of school children in Australia are overweight or obese so by promoting those high-fat food types it's quite against the healthy messages

we're trying to send toward obesity prevention. I agree. If you want to do a fundraiser do something else - sell toys or something like that. I don't want my kid eating Krispy Kremes all the time. I think that if children are introduced into junk food at a young age

that that habit can actually stick with them as they get older. It's a view shared by David Giblin

from the Parents and Citizens Association. We want to see that what is being taught, in terms of good nutrition in terms of good healthy foods, in the school canteen, is actually being reflected with fundraisers with P&C and other associated groups.

But some parents believe a ban is going too far. I think under supervision they should be able to be allowed to have some of these nice little rights that we've always been able to do. It seems to be something the school supports really well

so I don't have a problem with it. I think it's an over-reaction. Allan Dodd and his organisation, Fundraysia, have been supplying schools and community groups with lollies, toys and even toothbrushes as money-spinners

for the past 15 years. and a balanced diet If you have a healthy diet you can have a treat, then every now and then fundraising treats. and that's what these are - The thing with fundraising products, or whether it's chocolates whether they are donuts to portion control - is often you don't have the option or you're buying a box you're buying one and they're sold by the dozen, and it's the regulation of volume with weight control long-term which is the biggest issue not the one-off occasions. in moderation definitely. Look, I just think everything Something has to be done. 'cause you need it, You've got to raise money as public education needs You don't get as much money with many other options. so you're not really left David Eccleston there. to take all of the fun out of life. You get the feeling some people want Up next, car insurance. than getting your claim settled. Paying the preimum is a lot easier

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(Gasps) He's early. Ohh. Frizz! without the hassle, WOMAN: For beautiful hair Leave-In Hair Moisturiser. try new Pantene Squeeze, spread and style in one minute. to remove 80% of frizz for most of us A car is such a valuable item about the need for insurance. that we don't think twice

We just have to have it. a payout when you make a claim. But it's not always easy getting getting her car fixed This car owner is still fighting over 2.5 years after the accident. wall in the middle six times. We actually hit the cement barrier

We spun three times, on the front driver's side hitting the car three times and three at the back. Ford south of Sydney When Janelle Restante crashed her by the fact she was insured. in February 2003, she was comforted that what I am purchasing I actually expect from my insurance is what I am getting. Two years on, the car's still off the road. She has been fighting her insurer Allianz over the repairs. Absolutely despicable.

of their repair. I questioned the manner that after two repairers, I also questioned the fact it's still not fixed. Melbourne mechanic Tony Murdacca Janelle's now commissioned to check the car.

on the road It certainly wouldn't track right from the other because you've got one wheel back

is across to one side. and the rear of the car be tracking on the road So the wheels certainly wouldn't in a straight direction.

But in a statement, Allianz says manufacturer's specifications the car was repaired to the and that the vehicle was safe. accepted its handling of the case. Adding that the insurance ombudsman if you come clean now, As he said, then I can make it easier for you. to feel like the thief. John Gonzales claims he was made outside his Gold Coast home After his work car was stolen from in January this year. Budget Direct, He says he expected his insurer, not a private investigator. to send out an assesser, "throw your hands on the table Quoting his own words "and come clean because when I get you, "the consequences are going to be a lot more severe."

Budget Direct doesn't deny using independent investigators to examine some claims, of stealing his car, but denies accusing John which was found 16 days later. After five weeks of haggling, with his insurer. John reached a settlement for consumers It must be very frustrating who've actually got a claim - they need a car to get to work they need their car, claim sitting there, and not only do they have their but fraud is alleged as well there it can take some time and if the consumer is innocent be incredibly frustrating. to sort out that dispute and it can Federation of Australia. Caroline Bond is from the Consumers

some insurance companies There are certainly do the right thing that really don't of their profit and are thinking only if they really don't have to. and really don't want to pay out rejected every year is very small, The number of claims that are it's less than 0.3% of all claims. Council of Australia. Phillip Maguire is from the Insurance claims, Every year out of 1.3 million car he says 4,000 are rejected by insurers. Fraud does result in a number of rejections happening. I guess it is one of those things where we have fraud indicators that are identified by insurance companies, be investigated by the company and, quite reasonably, they have to policy holders cross-subsiding because otherwise we have honest the dishonest ones. I reckon. It's a travesty of justice, during storms Sylvia Pizarro's car was pock damaged in Sydney in February. after she was told She's now battling her insurer NRMA to her $7,000 vehicle only half the damage was caused by the hail. was caused by the ha l.

for $7,000, no way. I wouldn't get my hands dirty on specific cases. The NRMA won't comment the insurance ombudsman. The case is now before claims is in fact very, very quick. The settlement process for motor car being able to come up with results The industry prides itself on and payments on motor car claims quickly indeed. that what you pay for It tends to be a rule with insurance is what you get really good deal up front, and sometimes what looks like a are things in the small print it might be a cheap policy but there that mean it'll be hard to make a claim.

Elise Mooney there. Still on cars, but to a much happier side of motoring. 'Wheels' magazine has just named the best designed cars on the market. But it didn't stop there.

the engineering A panel of judges also looked beyond of the bunch. to select the sexiest car UPBEAT MUSIC Now you've been around a while. what makes it sexy? When you look at a car, thing Oh, look, it's a really emotional in a different way and I think cars speak to each of us

certainly is eye-catching. and great design It stops you. again and again and it stays resh. It makes you want to look at the car

UPBEAT MUSIC With plenty of sex appeal, league's Footy Show's Lady Luck, Amanda Flynn, better known as rugby knows what's hot and what's not. I love the leather. So let's have a seat. So what about the Citroen C4? a perfume dispenser. This car even comes with

I'm a fan. Yeah, I like it, I like it. I'm a fan. Yeah, I like it, I like it. Again, I like the big sun roof. It's quite a compact car. Is it sexy? It is sexy in a cute way. How hot is this car? Mini Cooper S. It's gorgeous. Let's go for a drive. There's just one thing, David. I don't drive manual. You don't drive manual? Nope. Well, I better drive this one. But if a family car is more your thing, there's the Audi A6. I know it's an Audi and it's beautiful and it's classy and it's stunning, but I dunno... You don't think I'd look sexy in it? I think it's a great kind of family kind of car. You didn't answer my question. You looked sexy in the Mini. Oh, that's OK then. $220,000, you're not nervous? A little, we'll have a bit of fun with it. OK, let's go. We're taking a spin in the most expensive car here, the BMW 6 Series convertible. 10, it's a definite 10. But if the Beemer is out of reach, the Mazda 3 is far more affordable at under 30 grand. Is it sexy? No, it's not. Who would have thought Volvo would have a contender in sexy car competition but there it is. I know, I know. It's very odd, but I think it's very stylish, stylish is sexy. But overall, Lady Luck just couldn't go past this $170,000 Mercedes CLS.

This is the sexiest car, definitely. Maybe for you, Amanda. But the panel's outvoted you

and leading motoring writer Peter Robinson is spot on with his prediction.

The car that I think that deserves to be the winner is the Citroen. It's a return to Citroen's roots to the days where Citroen cars were the most avant-garde cars in the world. David Eccleston having some fun with that one. Coming up - women who want to look like their idols and hang the cost.

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Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Aniston, Delta Goodrem - they've got the look that many women want to copy. But you better get out the credit card because it's going to cost a bit. SALSA-STYLE MUSIC Who do your clients want to look like? A lot of them want to look like Delta Goodrem, Sarah Jessica Parker, anyone famous, basically. They qe beauti ul, glamorous, rich and thin - the life of a celebrity is enviably perfect. And thousands of Australian women are monstering their credit cards lifestyles of the rich and famous. in a vain attempt to mimic the lifesty es of the rich and famous.

Some of them come in with a picture, "I wanna look like her." a lot of them come in and say, to Perth's starstruck. Cameron Milson is a hair stylist How many think about the cost? Not many. Not many at all. the cost is irrelevant. If they want it and it's achievable, aged 18 to 34 A new survey has suggested women to covet celebrity chic are splashing out up to $4,000 a year and half of that goes on their hair. of our celebrity spender's list - Well, Nicole Kidman is top everyone wants to look like Nicole - are Jennifer Aniston and not far behind and Delta Goodrem. for Virgin Blue, Kirsty Lamont is spokeswoman of 500 women. which commissioned the survey which commissioned t e survey

out the plastic One in two women admit to pulling

to copy celebrity perfection, a whole new credit card trend. so it's really driving is staggering. And the price of celebrity hair like Jennifer, $1,000 to get it poker straight, to get Nicole's strawberry curls. a couple hundred every few weeks I don't think anyone has that amount of money just to pay cash in hand. So it all goes on credit card? Yeah. on credit card, half cash, A lot of the time they put half which is great. Why do they do that? So hubby doesn't find out. and one Sarah Jessica Parker, But there is only one Nicole Kidman isn't there? like them is pretty slim? And the chances of you looking Buckley's.

to look like Nicole Kidman, They know they're not going the long smooth hair but if they can get and a similar colour, well... Closest thing? Yeah - they've made it. Hi, how are you going? Good. How are you? that Delta's wearing Good. I've seen this dress and it's really lovely. Delta's dress - it's beautiful.

I'd like to try it on. Yeah, it's really lovely.

Lisa Ho dress on Delta Goodrem Lauren Seldon has seen this

and she wants it. Oh, it's beautiful, isn't it? I really, really do like it. that Delta Goodrem wore, Knowing it's a dress does that make it more special? Definitely. Makes me feel quite glamorous. Very glamorous actually. hesitation when Lauren finds out And today, there's only a moment's a $1,000 hole in her pocket. her Delta dress is going to burn What's your husband going to say?

Not happy, Jan!

That's $1,145. How would you like to pay? Credit, thanks. Megan Gale wore this dress. And how much is it? That one is $995. $995 to look like Megan Gale? Okay. Hmm-mmm. to the ARIAS. And this one, Sophie Monk wore How much will that one set you back? That one's $885.

is placing enormous pressure I think the cult of celebrity on Australian women to spend money exposed to in the media. copying the images we're constantly And, in fact, most women tell us have th ir idol's figure and t@f would muc rather wardrobe have their idol's figure and t@f would uc rather

over their fame and career.

Don't we want to be us anymore? that we can look up to No, we want someone is really difficult and trying to find your own identity

when you're told that person's great, this person's great, so you don't feel so great. SALSA MUSIC in this dress, So if you hadn't seen Delta you wouldn't be in here, would you? Probably not. She looked gorgeous a girl and all. so you can't help wanting to be Ros Thomas there from Perth. laughs at the law. Now the serial drink driver who just high range drink driving offences. He's been convicted three times, all he's not going to worry His license has been disqualified but about petty details like that.

not to drive... You were told yesterday Yes, I was. for the last 24 hours. ..and, yet, you've been driving for the law. This person has no respect at all This man is a lethal weapon.

is going to kill someone. There is no question this man What do you have to say? Not much. does he deserve? How many last chances And let me tell you, just thumbing his nose at the law. he's just one of many That major investigation on Monday. Thanks for being with us this week. We'll see you then. Goodnight. www.auscap.com.au by the Australian Caption Centre. Supertext Captions