Lots of people face financial problems at some point in their lives, and the majority of these people are probably familiar with debt collectors. A debt collector is an individual whose job is to collect debts on behalf of an organisation. A debt collector can either be an employee of a firm you owe money to, or they could be a third party employed by a lender. As you can imagine, it’s not a simple job to squeeze money out of people who simply don’t have any. It would be fair to say that many people in debt are already strained about their financial difficulties, and other people calling them to remind them of this doesn’t always end well. Consequently, debt collectors have a lot of negative connotations. There have been numerous cases of people being harassed by debt collectors so it’s crucial that people who are being contacted by debt collectors understand their rights and how to manage these kinds of interactions.
Understand Your Legal Rights.
Being aware of what debt collectors can and can’t do is critical in having the capacity to suitably 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 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 useful to recognise how and when debt collectors can contact you. They can do this by phone, mail, emails, social networking sites 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 date and time of contact, the source of contact (email, phone, person), the debt collector’s name and business name, and what was said during the interaction. It’s also relevant to note that debt collectors must respect your right to privacy and providing your financial details to another party without your authorisation is breaking the Law.
The Australian Consumer Law also stipulates 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 replied to any of their past 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 seen 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 immediately.
Know What Options You Have.
A debt collector’s job is not to be hospitable 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 understand what your debt relief options are. You can carry out some research on the web to find what alternatives you have or you could seek professional debt management advice (most firms will offer free advice at the beginning). Once you are aware of what alternatives you have, you’ll be more confident in managing 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 simpler by having the ability to control the discussion and informing 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 very difficult, and they’ll use any methods possible for you to repay your debt since the amount of debt you repay and how fast you repay it determines the commissions that debt collectors receive from lenders. The best way to deal with communications with debt collectors is to understand your legal rights, when and how they can contact you, record all correspondences, and understanding what debt relief alternatives you have. If you’re aware of these points, then it will dramatically improve your interactions with debt collectors and hopefully won’t add additional stress to your current financial condition. If you need any advice about what debt relief options you have, talk with the professionals at Bankruptcy Experts Taree on 1300 795 575 or visit their website for more information: www.bankruptcyexpertstaree.com.au.