A lot of people face financial problems at some time in their lives, and the majority of these individuals are very 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 a firm you owe money to, or they can be a 3rd party working with a creditor. As you can envision, 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 pressured about their financial complications, and people calling them to remind them of this doesn’t always end smoothly. Consequently, debt collectors have a lot of unfavourable connotations. There have been numerous cases of people being harassed by debt collectors so it’s important that individuals who are being contacted by debt collectors understand their rights and effective ways to handle these sorts of communications.
Learn about Your Legal Rights.
Recognising what debt collectors can and can’t do is crucial 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 similarly your partner or spouse, family members, or anyone else associated 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)1.
How And When Debt Collectors Can Contact You.
It’s likewise valuable to understand how and when debt collectors can contact you. They can do this by telephone, letters, emails, social media sites or by visiting you face to face. Any time you have correspondences with debt collectors, it’s pivotal that you maintain a record of such communication including the time and date of contact, the means of contact (letter, email, phone), the debt collector’s name and business name, and what was said during the interaction. It’s also vital to note that debt collectors must respect your right to privacy and providing your financial details to another party without your authorisation is breaking the Law.
The Australian Consumer Law also stipulates that:
Debt collectors can only make up to 3 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 answered any of their prior 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 courteous and give you a series of debt relief options. 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 understand what your debt relief alternatives are. You can perform some research online to uncover what options you have or you could seek professional debt management advice (most businesses will offer free advice at the beginning). Once you understand what choices you have, you’ll be more confident in managing 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 chance to govern the interaction and advising 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 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 manage communications with debt collectors is to realise your legal rights, when and how they can contact you, record all correspondences, and knowing what debt relief alternatives you have. If you’re aware of these points, then it will substantially 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 alternatives you have, talk to the professionals at Bankruptcy Experts Australia on 1300 795 575 or visit their website for additional information: www.bankruptcyexpertsaustralia.com.au.