Many people encounter financial challenges at some point in their lives, and most of these individuals are quite likely to be familiar with debt collectors. A debt collector is an individual whose job is to collect debts on behalf of a company. 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 picture, it’s not a simple job to squeeze money out of people who simply don’t have any. Most people in debt are already burdened by their financial difficulties, and other people calling them to remind them of this doesn’t always end happily. Consequently, debt collectors have a lot of unfavourable connotations. There have been countless 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 how to handle these types of communications.
Understand Your Legal Rights.
Recognising what debt collectors can and can’t do is crucial in having the ability to suitably 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 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 additionally vital to recognise how and when debt collectors can contact you. They can do this by phone, letters, emails, social media sites or by seeing you in person. Whenever you have correspondences with debt collectors, it’s essential that you maintain a record of such communication including the date and time of contact, the means of contact (email, phone, person), the debt collector’s name and business name, and what was said during the interaction. It’s also critical to note that debt collectors must respect your right to privacy and providing your financial details to another party without your permission is breaking the Law.
The Australian Consumer Law also specifies that:
Debt collectors can only make up to 3 phone calls or letters each 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 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 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 coax 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 see what options you have or you could seek professional debt management advice (most firms will offer free advice initially). Once you are aware of 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 ability to control the interaction and advising you of what choices 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 means 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 lenders. The best way to handle communications with debt collectors is to understand your legal rights, when and how they can contact you, document all correspondences, and knowing what debt relief options you have. If you’re aware of these points, then it will substantially improve your correspondences with debt collectors and hopefully won’t add additional stress to your current financial situation. If you need any advice about what debt relief opportunities you have, get in contact with the professionals at Bankruptcy Experts Townsville on 1300 795 575 or visit their website for more details: http://www.bankruptcyexpertstownsville.com.au.