Many people encounter financial troubles at some time in their lives, and most of these people are very likely to be familiar with debt collectors. A debt collector is a person whose job is to collect debts on behalf of an organisation. A debt collector can either be an employee of a business you owe money to, or they can be a third party working with a creditor. As you can envision, it’s not an easy job to squeeze money out of people who simply have none. Most people in debt are already pressured about their financial condition, and people contacting them to remind them of this doesn’t always end happily. Consequently, debt collectors have a lot of detrimental connotations. There have been lots of cases of people being harassed by debt collectors so it’s critical that people who are being contacted by debt collectors are aware of their rights and the best ways to handle these types of interactions.
Learn about Your Legal Rights.
Understanding what debt collectors can and can’t do is essential in being able to properly 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 relate to a debt collector’s behaviour towards you, but additionally your partner or spouse, family members, or anyone else associated with 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 additionally essential to recognise how and when debt collectors can contact you. They can do this by phone, letters, emails, social media or by seeing you in person. Every time you have interactions with debt collectors, it’s crucial that you keep a document of such communication including the time and date of contact, the means of contact (person, email, phone), the debt collector’s name and business name, and what was said during the interaction. It’s also significant to note that debt collectors must respect your right to privacy and supplying your financial details to another party without your authorisation is breaking the Law.
The Australian Consumer Law also specifies 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 addressed 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 viewed by anyone but you.
If you do agree to meet a debt collector personally, 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 friendly and give you a variety of debt relief options. Their job 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 have an understanding of what your debt relief alternatives are. You can carry out some research online to uncover 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 alternatives you have, you’ll be more confident in addressing 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 chance to dictate the interaction and instructing you of what choices 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 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 correspondences with debt collectors is to recognise your legal rights, when and how they can contact you, document all communications, and knowing what debt relief possibilities you have. If you’re aware of these points, then it will substantially improve your communications with debt collectors and hopefully won’t add extra stress to your current financial predicament. If you need any advice about what debt relief opportunities you have, speak with the professionals at Bankruptcy Experts Lismore on 1300 795 575 or visit their website for additional information: www.bankruptcyexpertslismore.com.au.