Many individuals deal with financial challenges at some time in their lives, and the majority 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 an organisation. A debt collector can either be an employee of an enterprise you owe money to, or they could be a third party working with a creditor. As you can picture, it’s not an easy job to squeeze money out of people who have none. It would be safe to say that most people in debt are already stressed about their financial hardship, and people phoning them to remind them of this doesn’t always end well. Consequently, debt collectors have a lot of detrimental associations. There have been numerous cases of individuals being harassed by debt collectors so it’s vital that individuals who are being contacted by debt collectors understand their rights and effective ways to manage these types of interactions.
Learn about Your Legal Rights.
Being aware of what debt collectors can and can’t do is critical in being able to properly 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 concern a debt collector’s behaviour towards you, but similarly 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 equally crucial to be aware of how and when debt collectors can contact you. They can do this by telephone, letters, emails, social media sites or by visiting you in person. Each time you have communications with debt collectors, it’s integral that you maintain a document of such interaction 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 relevant to note that debt collectors must respect your right to privacy and providing your financial info to another party without your authorisation is breaking the Law.
The Australian Consumer Law also stipulates that:
Debt collectors can only make up to 3 telephone calls or letters each 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 answered 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 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 friendly and give you a range of debt relief options. Their task is to urge you to repay as much of your debt as possible, as fast as possible. So, the best thing to do is to understand what your debt relief alternatives are. You can conduct some research online to uncover what options you have or you could seek professional debt management advice (most companies will offer free advice to begin with). Once you are aware of what choices you have, you’ll be more self-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 much easier by being able to govern the conversation and telling you of what choices 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 lenders. The best way to deal with communications with debt collectors is to have an understanding of your legal rights, when and how they can contact you, document all correspondences, and understanding what debt relief possibilities you have. If you’re aware of these points, then it will drastically improve your correspondences with debt collectors and hopefully won’t add extra stress to your current financial situation. If you need any advice about what debt relief opportunities you have, contact the professionals at Bankruptcy Experts Emerald on 1300 795 575 or visit their website for additional information: http://www.bankruptcyexpertsemerald.com.au.