Lots of people encounter financial distress at some point in their lives, and most of these individuals 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 business. A debt collector can either be an employee of an organisation you owe money to, or they could be a third party servicing a lender. As you can imagine, it’s not an easy task to squeeze money out of people who simply don’t have any. Most people in debt are already strained about their financial challenges, and people calling them to remind them of this doesn’t always end well. Consequently, debt collectors have a lot of negative connotations. There have been plenty of cases of individuals being harassed by debt collectors so it’s vital that individuals who are being contacted by debt collectors understand their rights and how to handle these kinds of communications.
Learn about Your Legal Rights
Understanding what debt collectors can and can’t do is vital in having the capacity 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 apply to a debt collector’s behaviour towards you, but additionally your partner or spouse, family members, or anyone else related to you. If you find yourself in a position 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 equally important to recognise how and when debt collectors can contact you. They can do this by phone, mail, emails, social networks or by seeing you face to face. Any time you have correspondences with debt collectors, it’s vital that you keep a document of such correspondence including the date and time of contact, the source of contact (phone, email, person), the debt collector’s name and company name, and what was said during the interaction. It’s also crucial to note that debt collectors must respect your right to privacy and providing your financial info to another party without your authorisation is breaking the Law.
The Australian Consumer Law also stipulates that:
Debt collectors can only make up to three phone calls or letters per week (or 10 monthly).
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 addressed any of their former 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 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 immediately1.
Know What Options You Have
A debt collector’s job is not to be pleasant and give you a range of debt relief alternatives. Their job 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 undertake some research on the net to see what possibilities you have or you could seek professional debt management advice (most businesses will offer free advice in the beginning). Once you recognise what choices you have, you’ll be more comfortable 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 easier by having the opportunity to govern the conversation and telling you of what options 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 difficult, and they’ll use any methods possible for you to repay your debt since the quantity of debt you repay and how fast you repay it determines the commissions that debt collectors receive from lenders. The best way to deal with correspondences with debt collectors is to know your legal rights, when and how they can contact you, record all communications, and knowing what debt relief options you have. If you’re aware of these points, then it will greatly improve your interactions with debt collectors and hopefully won’t add extra stress to your current financial condition. If you need any advice about what debt relief options you have, get in contact with the professionals at Bankruptcy Experts Tweed Coast on 1300 795 575 or visit their website for more information: Bankruptcy Tweedcoast