A log of folks deal with financial problems at some time in their lives, and most 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 a company. A debt collector can either be an employee of a firm you owe money to, or they could be a 3rd party working for a lender. As you can imagine, it’s not a simple task to squeeze money out of people who have none. It would be fair to say that many people in debt are already burdened by their financial difficulties, and other people phoning them to remind them of this doesn’t always end well. Consequently, debt collectors have a lot of negative connotations. There have been countless cases of individuals being harassed by debt collectors so it’s imperative that individuals who are being contacted by debt collectors are aware 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 essential in having the ability to effectively 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 similarly your partner or spouse, family members, or anyone else connected with you. If you find yourself 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 necessary 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. Each time you have interactions with debt collectors, it’s integral that you keep a document of such communication including the time and date of contact, the methods of contact (email, phone, person), the debt collector’s name and business name, and what was said during the correspondence. It’s also useful to note that debt collectors must respect your right to privacy and providing your financial info to another party without your permission is breaking the Law.
The Australian Consumer Law also specifies 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 in person, 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 pleasant and give you a series of debt relief alternatives. Their task is to persuade you to repay as much of your debt as possible, as quickly as possible. So, the best thing to do is to be aware of what your debt relief alternatives are. You can carry out some research on the net to search for what alternatives you have or you could seek professional debt management advice (most firms will offer free advice at the beginning). Once you recognise what choices you have, you’ll be more comfortable in addressing 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 simpler by having the opportunity to control the interaction and advising you of what alternatives you have, whether they’re true or not.
It’s always a tough situation when you come into contact with debt collectors. Their job is very 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 creditors. The best way to manage interactions with debt collectors is to know your legal rights, when and how they can contact you, record all interactions, and understanding what debt relief alternatives you have. If you’re aware of these points, then it will considerably improve your correspondences with debt collectors and hopefully won’t add even more stress to your current financial predicament. If you need any advice about what debt relief options you have, contact the professionals at Bankruptcy Experts Albury on 1300 795 575 or visit their website for more details: www.bankruptcyexpertsalbury.com.au.