Many individuals deal with financial difficulties at some time in their lives, and the majority of these folks are quite likely to be familiar with debt collectors. A debt collector is a person whose job is to collect debts on behalf of an enterprise. A debt collector can either be an employee of a business you owe money to, or they could be a third party working for a lender. As you can imagine, it’s not a straightforward job to squeeze money out of people who simply don’t have any. It would be fair to say that many people in debt are already stressed about their financial situation, and other people calling them to remind them of this doesn’t always end smoothly. As a result, debt collectors have a lot of negative associations. There have been a lot of cases of individuals being harassed by debt collectors so it’s vital that people who are being contacted by debt collectors have knowledge of their rights and the best ways to handle these kinds of communications.
Understand Your Legal Rights.
Understanding what debt collectors can and can’t do is extremely important in being able to properly 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 relate to a debt collector’s behaviour towards you, but additionally your partner or spouse, family members, or anyone else related to 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 essential to understand how and when debt collectors can contact you. They can do this by phone, letters, emails, social networks or by visiting you face to face. Any time you have interactions with debt collectors, it’s vital that you maintain a record of such communication including the time and date of contact, the source of contact (letter, phone, person), the debt collector’s name and business name, and what was said during the correspondence. It’s also essential to note that debt collectors must respect your right to privacy and supplying your financial details to another party without your consent is breaking the Law.
The Australian Consumer Law also states that:
Debt collectors can only make up to three telephone calls or letters per 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 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 warm and friendly and give you a range of debt relief options. Their task is to encourage you to repay as much of your debt as possible, as quickly as possible. So, the best thing to do is to recognise what your debt relief alternatives are. You can conduct some research online to find what alternatives you have or you could seek professional debt management advice (most businesses will offer free advice at the beginning). Once you understand what options you have, you’ll be more comfortable 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 much easier by having the opportunity to dictate 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 means 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 lenders. The best way to deal with interactions with debt collectors is to understand your legal rights, when and how they can contact you, document all correspondences, and understanding what debt relief possibilities you have. If you’re aware of these points, then it will notably improve your correspondences with debt collectors and hopefully won’t add extra 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 Whitsundays on 1300 795 575 or visit their website for additional information: http://www.bankruptcyexpertswhitsundays.com.au.