Lots of people wrestle with financial distress at some time in their lives, and the majority of these people 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 an enterprise you owe money to, or they could be a third party working with a lender. As you can imagine, it’s not a straightforward task 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 difficulties, and people contacting them to remind them of this doesn’t always end well. Consequently, debt collectors have a lot of adverse associations. There have been countless 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 deal with these sorts of communications.
Understand Your Legal Rights.
Recognising what debt collectors can and can’t do is vital in having the capacity to effectively 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 apply 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 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 necessary to be aware of how and when debt collectors can contact you. They can do this by telephone, mail, emails, social media sites or by visiting you personally. Any time you have correspondences with debt collectors, it’s crucial that you keep a document of such interaction including the time and date of contact, the source of contact (phone, email, person), the debt collector’s name and company name, and what was said during the correspondence. It’s also crucial to note that debt collectors must respect your right to privacy and supplying your financial info to another party without your permission is breaking the Law.
The Australian Consumer Law also states that:
Debt collectors can only make up to three 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 immediately.
Know What Options You Have.
A debt collector’s job is not to be courteous and give you a variety of debt relief options. Their job is to coax you to repay as much of your debt as possible, as fast as possible. So, the best thing to do is to be aware of what your debt relief alternatives are. You can perform some research on the net to search for what alternatives you have or you could seek professional debt management advice (most firms will offer free advice at first). Once you recognise what options 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 control the interaction and informing you of what options you have, whether they’re true or not.
It’s always a tricky situation when you come into contact with debt collectors. Their job is difficult, and they’ll use any way possible for you to repay your debt since the amount of debt you repay and how quickly you repay it determines the commissions that debt collectors receive from creditors. The best way to deal with correspondences with debt collectors is to realise your legal rights, when and how they can contact you, record all correspondences, and understanding what debt relief possibilities you have. If you’re aware of these points, then it will dramatically improve your interactions with debt collectors and hopefully won’t add more stress to your current financial predicament. If you need any advice about what debt relief options you have, contact the professionals at Bankruptcy Experts Mackay on 1300 795 575 or visit their website for more information: www.bankruptcyexpertsmackay.com.au.