Bankruptcy in Australia – What To Understand about Debt Collection
A lot of individuals struggle with financial challenges at some time in their lives, and most of these people are quite likely to be familiar with debt collectors. A debt collector is an individual whose job is to collect debts on behalf of an enterprise. A debt collector can either be an employee of an organisation you owe money to, or they can be a 3rd party servicing a creditor. As you can picture, it’s not a straightforward job to squeeze money out of people who have none. Most people in debt are already strained about their financial condition, and other people calling them to remind them of this doesn’t always end well. Consequently, debt collectors have a lot of adverse connotations. There have been countless cases of people being harassed by debt collectors so it’s vital that people who are being contacted by debt collectors have knowledge of their rights and how to handle these sorts of interactions.
Be aware of Your Legal Rights.
Understanding what debt collectors can and can’t do is very important in being able to effectively manage any interactions 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 involve 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 situation where a debt collecting is breaking these Laws, make a formal complaint to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)1.
How And When Debt Collectors Can Contact You.
It’s also necessary to understand how and when debt collectors can contact you. They can do this by telephone, mail, emails, social networking sites or by visiting you face to face. Each time you have interactions with debt collectors, it’s critical that you keep a document of such correspondence including the time and date of contact, the methods of contact (letter, email, phone), the debt collector’s name and business name, and what was said during the interaction. It’s also valuable to note that debt collectors must respect your right to privacy and supplying your financial info to another party without your approval is breaking the Law.
The Australian Consumer Law also specifies that:
Debt collectors can only make up to three 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 messages can not be viewed 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 immediately.
Know What Options You Have.
A debt collector’s job is not to be friendly and give you a variety of debt relief solutions. Their job is to urge you to repay as much of your debt as possible, as fast as possible. So, the best thing to do is to be aware of what your debt relief options are. You can undertake some research on the web to see what alternatives you have or you could seek professional debt management advice (most firms will offer free advice at first). Once you are aware of what alternatives you have, you’ll be more self-confident in dealing with debt collector’s threats or demands, or any other collection tactics. If you don’t understand what your options are, it makes the job of the debt collector easier by having the opportunity to dictate the interaction and telling you of what options you have, whether they’re true or not.
It’s always a challenging 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 amount of debt you repay and how quickly you repay it determines the commissions that debt collectors receive from creditors. The best way to handle correspondences with debt collectors is to understand your legal rights, when and how they can contact you, record all interactions, and knowing what debt relief possibilities you have. If you’re aware of these points, then it will certainly improve your correspondences with debt collectors and hopefully won’t add even more stress to your current financial predicament. If you need any advice about what debt relief options you have, get in touch with the professionals at Bankruptcy Experts Joondalup on 1300 795 575 or visit their website for more information: www.bankruptcyexpertsjoondalup.com.au.