Many people struggle with financial distress at some point in their lives, and the majority of these individuals are probably 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 3rd party employed by a creditor. As you can envision, it’s not an easy job to squeeze money out of people who simply don’t have any. It would be safe to say that most people in debt are already strained about their financial situation, and people calling them to remind them of this doesn’t always end happily. As a result, debt collectors have a lot of unfavourable associations. There have been plenty of cases of people being harassed by debt collectors so it’s vital that people who are being contacted by debt collectors are aware of their rights and how to manage these sorts of interactions.
Be aware of Your Legal Rights.
Understanding what debt collectors can and can’t do is vital in having the capacity 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 involve a debt collector’s behaviour towards you, but similarly 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 also vital 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 in person. Every time you have correspondences with debt collectors, it’s pivotal that you maintain a record of such interaction including the time and date of contact, the source of contact (letter, phone, person), the debt collector’s name and company 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 consent is breaking the Law.
The Australian Consumer Law also states that:
Debt collectors can only make up to 3 phone 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 responded to 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 correspondence 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 pleasant and give you a variety of debt relief solutions. Their task 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 have an understanding of what your debt relief options are. You can perform some research on the web to uncover what options you have or you could seek professional debt management advice (most companies will offer free advice at first). Once you understand what alternatives you have, you’ll be more self-confident in addressing debt collector’s threats or demands, or any other collection tactics. If you don’t understand what your options are, it makes the job of the debt collector much easier by being able to control the conversation and informing you of what alternatives you have, whether they’re true or not.
It’s always a complicated 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 amount of debt you repay and how quickly you repay it determines the commissions that debt collectors receive from lenders. The best way to handle interactions with debt collectors is to recognise your legal rights, when and how they can contact you, record all communications, and knowing what debt relief choices you have. If you’re aware of these points, then it will dramatically improve your interactions 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, talk with the professionals at Bankruptcy Experts Tennant Creek on 1300 795 575 or visit their website for more details: http://www.bankruptcyexpertstennantcreek.com.au.