A lot of individuals wrestle with financial distress at some time in their lives, and the majority of these folks are 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 a business you owe money to, or they could be a 3rd party working for a creditor. As you can picture, it’s not a simple task to squeeze money out of people who have none. Most people in debt are already burdened by their financial issues, and other people contacting them to remind them of this doesn’t always end happily. As a result, debt collectors have a lot of negative connotations. There have been a lot of cases of people being harassed by debt collectors so it’s important that individuals who are being contacted by debt collectors understand their rights and how to deal with these sorts of interactions.
Be aware of Your Legal Rights.
Being aware of what debt collectors can and can’t do is crucial in having the ability 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 end up 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 valuable to recognise how and when debt collectors can contact you. They can do this by telephone, letters, emails, social media sites or by seeing you in person. Whenever you have correspondences with debt collectors, it’s important that you maintain a record of such correspondence including the time and date of contact, the methods of contact (email, phone, person), the debt collector’s name and company name, and what was said during the interaction. It’s also crucial 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 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 replied 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 correspondence 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 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 options. Their job is to urge 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 perform some research on the net to search for what possibilities you have or you could seek professional debt management advice (most businesses will offer free advice initially). Once you understand what choices you have, you’ll be more comfortable in managing 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 conversation 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 very difficult, and they’ll use any means 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 know your legal rights, when and how they can contact you, document all interactions, and knowing what debt relief options you have. If you’re aware of these points, then it will significantly improve your interactions with debt collectors and hopefully won’t add extra stress to your current financial condition. If you need any advice about what debt relief alternatives you have, talk with the professionals at Bankruptcy Experts Shellharbour on 1300 795 575 or visit their website for more details: http://www.bankruptcyexpertsshellharbour.com.au.