Lots of people wrestle with financial problems at some point in their lives, and the majority of these folks are very likely to be familiar with debt collectors. A debt collector is a person whose job is to collect debts on behalf of a company. A debt collector can either be an employee of an enterprise you owe money to, or they could be a third party servicing a lender. As you can imagine, it’s not a straightforward task to squeeze money out of people who simply have none. It would be fair to say that many people in debt are already strained about their financial condition, and people calling them to remind them of this doesn’t always end well. As a result, debt collectors have a lot of unfavourable associations. There have been lots of cases of people being harassed by debt collectors so it’s crucial that people who are being contacted by debt collectors are aware of their rights and the best ways to manage these sorts of communications.
Learn about Your Legal Rights.
Recognising what debt collectors can and can’t do is vital in having the ability to effectively manage any communications you may have with them. Under Australian Consumer Law, a debt collector must not:
Use any physical force or coercion (forcing you to do something).
Hassle or harass you to an unreasonable extent.
Mislead or deceive you (or attempting to do so).
Take advantage of people that are vulnerable, disabled, or have any other similar circumstances affecting them.
Not only do these laws concern a debt collector’s behaviour towards you, but also your partner or spouse, family members, or anyone else connected with you. If you end up in a position where a debt collecting is breaking these Laws, make a formal complaint to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
How And When Debt Collectors Can Contact You.
It’s also necessary to recognise how and when debt collectors can contact you. They can do this by telephone, mail, emails, social media or by seeing you face to face. Each time you have interactions with debt collectors, it’s essential that you maintain a document of such interaction including the time and date of contact, the methods of contact (phone, email, person), the debt collector’s name and company name, and what was said during the correspondence. It’s also crucial to note that debt collectors must respect your right to privacy and supplying your financial info to another party without your permission is breaking the Law.
The Australian Consumer Law also stipulates that:
Debt collectors can only make up to 3 phone calls or letters each week (or 10 each month).
Debt collectors can only phone you between 7:30 am and 9pm on weekdays and 9am to 9pm on weekends.
Debt collectors can only make face-to-face contact between 9am and 9pm on weekdays and weekends, once a month, and can only visit you if you haven’t replied to any of their previous attempts at communication.
There is to be no contact from debt collectors on national public holidays.
Debt collectors must be reasonably sure that if they contact you electronically (social media or email), that your account is not shared with another person and their communication can not be seen by anyone but you.
If you do agree to meet a debt collector face to face, any threats of assault or violence should be reported to the police immediately1.
Know What Options You Have.
A debt collector’s job is not to be warm and give you a series of debt relief alternatives. Their task is to urge you to repay as much of your debt as possible, as quickly as possible. So, the best thing to do is to be aware of what your debt relief options are. You can perform some research on the internet to see what possibilities you have or you could seek professional debt management advice (most companies will offer free advice in the beginning). Once you recognise what options you have, you’ll be more confident in dealing with debt collector’s threats or demands, or any other collection tactics. If you don’t know what your options are, it makes the job of the debt collector much easier by being able to dictate the discussion and informing you of what alternatives you have, whether they’re true or not.
It’s always a complicated situation when you come into contact with debt collectors. Their job is very difficult, and they’ll use any way possible for you to repay your debt since the quantity of debt you repay and how quickly you repay it determines the commissions that debt collectors receive from creditors. The best way to handle communications with debt collectors is to know your legal rights, when and how they can contact you, record all correspondences, and understanding what debt relief possibilities you have. If you’re aware of these points, then it will certainly improve your interactions with debt collectors and hopefully won’t add more stress to your current financial predicament. If you need any advice about what debt relief choices you have, speak with the professionals at Bankruptcy Experts on 1300 795 575 or visit their website for more information: www.bankruptcyexperts.com.au.