A lot of people struggle with financial difficulties 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 an enterprise. A debt collector can either be an employee of an organisation you owe money to, or they could be a third party servicing a creditor. As you can imagine, it’s not a simple task to squeeze money out of people who don’t have any. It would be fair to say that many people in debt are already strained about their financial situation, and people contacting 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 many cases of individuals being harassed by debt collectors so it’s imperative that people who are being contacted by debt collectors are aware of their rights and effective ways to manage these types of interactions.
Understand Your Legal Rights.
Understanding what debt collectors can and can’t do is crucial in having the capacity to adequately manage any correspondences 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 additionally your partner or spouse, family members, or anyone else related to 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 equally valuable to recognise how and when debt collectors can contact you. They can do this by phone, mail, emails, social networks or by visiting you in person. Any time you have communications with debt collectors, it’s integral that you maintain a record of such correspondence including the date and time 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 significant to note that debt collectors must respect your right to privacy and supplying your financial information to another party without your permission is breaking the Law.
The Australian Consumer Law also states that:
Debt collectors can only make up to three telephone 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 prior 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 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 solutions. 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 options are. You can perform some research on the web to search for what options you have or you could seek professional debt management advice (most businesses will offer free advice at first). Once you recognise what options you have, you’ll be more confident in handling 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 dictate the discussion and informing 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 difficult, and they’ll use any methods 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 manage interactions with debt collectors is to recognise your legal rights, when and how they can contact you, document all interactions, and knowing what debt relief possibilities you have. If you’re aware of these points, then it will significantly improve your correspondences with debt collectors and hopefully won’t add even more stress to your current financial condition. If you need any advice about what debt relief opportunities you have, speak to the professionals at Bankruptcy Experts Rockhampton on 1300 795 575 or visit their website for additional information: http://www.bankruptcyexpertsrockhampton.com.au.