Lots of folks deal with financial challenges at some time in their lives, and most of these people are probably familiar with debt collectors. A debt collector is a person whose job is to collect debts on behalf of a firm. A debt collector can either be an employee of an organisation you owe money to, or they could be a 3rd party working with a lender. As you can imagine, it’s not a straightforward job to squeeze money out of people who simply have none. It would be safe to say that most people in debt are already pressured about their financial issues, and other people contacting them to remind them of this doesn’t always end happily. As a result, debt collectors have a lot of unfavourable associations. There have been a lot of cases of individuals being harassed by debt collectors so it’s critical that individuals who are being contacted by debt collectors are aware of their rights and effective ways to manage these sorts of communications.
Understand Your Legal Rights.
Recognising what debt collectors can and can’t do is critical in being able 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 involve a debt collector’s behaviour towards you, but similarly 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 likewise important to understand how and when debt collectors can contact you. They can do this by telephone, letters, emails, social media or by seeing you personally. Whenever you have interactions with debt collectors, it’s crucial that you maintain a record of such communication including the time and date of contact, the source of contact (phone, email, person), the debt collector’s name and company name, and what was said during the correspondence. 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 consent 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 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 replied to 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 correspondence 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 courteous and give you a variety of debt relief solutions. Their task 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 have an understanding of what your debt relief alternatives are. You can undertake some research on the internet to see what possibilities you have or you could seek professional debt management advice (most companies will offer free advice to begin with). Once you recognise what options 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 understand what your options are, it makes the job of the debt collector much easier by having the ability to control the discussion and instructing you of what alternatives 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 fast you repay it determines the commissions that debt collectors receive from lenders. The best way to handle communications with debt collectors is to have an understanding of your legal rights, when and how they can contact you, record all communications, and understanding what debt relief options you have. If you’re aware of these points, then it will greatly improve your correspondences with debt collectors and hopefully won’t add additional stress to your current financial condition. If you need any advice about what debt relief alternatives you have, talk to the professionals at Bankruptcy Experts Maitland on 1300 795 575 or visit their website for more details: http://www.bankruptcyexpertsmaitland.com.au.