Lots of folks wrestle with financial problems at some time in their lives, and most of these folks 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 company. A debt collector can either be an employee of a firm you owe money to, or they could be a third party working with a creditor. As you can envision, it’s not a straightforward task to squeeze money out of people who have none. It would be fair to say that many people in debt are already stressed about their financial challenges, and other people calling them to remind them of this doesn’t always end well. As a result, debt collectors have a lot of negative connotations. There have been lots of 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 deal with these types of communications.
Learn about Your Legal Rights.
Understanding what debt collectors can and can’t do is crucial in being able 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 relate to a debt collector’s behaviour towards you, but also 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 additionally necessary to understand how and when debt collectors can contact you. They can do this by telephone, letters, emails, social media sites or by seeing you personally. Whenever you have communications with debt collectors, it’s pivotal that you keep a record of such correspondence including the date and time of contact, the methods of contact (letter, email, phone), the debt collector’s name and business name, and what was said during the correspondence. 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 approval is breaking the Law.
The Australian Consumer Law also states that:
Debt collectors can only make up to 3 phone 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 responded to 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 communication 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 pleasant and give you a series 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 have an understanding of what your debt relief alternatives are. You can conduct some research on the internet to uncover what alternatives you have or you could seek professional debt management advice (most firms will offer free advice initially). Once you understand what alternatives 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 having the opportunity to dictate the conversation and telling you of what options 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 means 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 correspondences with debt collectors is to know your legal rights, when and how they can contact you, document all interactions, and knowing what debt relief alternatives you have. If you’re aware of these points, then it will substantially improve your communications with debt collectors and hopefully won’t add extra stress to your current financial predicament. If you need any advice about what debt relief alternatives you have, speak to the professionals at Bankruptcy Experts Sunshine Coast on 1300 795 575 or visit their website for more information: www.bankruptcyexpertssunshinecoast.com.au.