Lots of people wrestle with financial challenges at some time in their lives, and most of these individuals are very likely to be 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 can be a third party working for a lender. As you can envision, it’s not an easy task to squeeze money out of people who have none. Most people in debt are already burdened by their financial problems, and other people phoning them to remind them of this doesn’t always end smoothly. Consequently, debt collectors have a lot of negative connotations. There have been a lot of cases of individuals being harassed by debt collectors so it’s important that people who are being contacted by debt collectors understand their rights and the best ways to handle these kinds of interactions.
Learn about Your Legal Rights.
Being aware of what debt collectors can and can’t do is crucial in having the capacity to appropriately 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 apply to a debt collector’s behaviour towards you, but also your partner or spouse, family members, or anyone else connected with you. If you end up 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 useful to be aware of how and when debt collectors can contact you. They can do this by telephone, letters, emails, social networking sites or by visiting you face to face. Every time you have communications with debt collectors, it’s critical that you keep a record of such interaction including the time and date of contact, the means of contact (letter, email, phone), the debt collector’s name and business name, and what was said during the correspondence. It’s also critical 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 stipulates that:
Debt collectors can only make up to three telephone calls or letters per 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 previous 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 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 friendly and give you a variety of debt relief solutions. Their job 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 have an understanding of what your debt relief alternatives are. You can undertake some research online to find what options you have or you could seek professional debt management advice (most businesses will offer free advice at first). Once you understand what choices you have, you’ll be more confident in resolving 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 interaction and instructing you of what choices 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 creditors. The best way to manage communications with debt collectors is to have an understanding of your legal rights, when and how they can contact you, record all interactions, and knowing what debt relief options you have. If you’re aware of these points, then it will drastically 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 possibilities you have, get in touch with the professionals at Bankruptcy Experts Fremantle on 1300 795 575 or visit their website for additional information: http://www.bankruptcyexpertsfremantle.com.au.