Many people face financial troubles at some time in their lives, and the majority of these folks are probably familiar with debt collectors. A debt collector is a person whose job is to collect debts on behalf of a business. A debt collector can either be an employee of a company you owe money to, or they can be a third party employed by a creditor. As you can picture, it’s not a straightforward job to squeeze money out of people who don’t have any. It would be safe to say that most people in debt are already strained about their financial situation, and other people calling them to remind them of this doesn’t always end smoothly. As a result, debt collectors have a lot of unfavourable connotations. There have been a lot of cases of individuals being harassed by debt collectors so it’s important that individuals who are being contacted by debt collectors have knowledge of their rights and effective ways to manage these sorts of interactions.
Learn about Your Legal Rights.
Recognising what debt collectors can and can’t do is essential in having the capacity to properly 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 relate to a debt collector’s behaviour towards you, but similarly your partner or spouse, family members, or anyone else related to 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 also crucial to be aware of how and when debt collectors can contact you. They can do this by telephone, letters, emails, social networks or by seeing you face to face. Each time you have correspondences with debt collectors, it’s crucial that you keep a document of such interaction including the date and time 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 relevant to note that debt collectors must respect your right to privacy and providing your financial information to another party without your consent 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 former 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 hospitable and give you a range of debt relief alternatives. Their job is to coax you to repay as much of your debt as possible, as quickly as possible. So, the best thing to do is to be aware of what your debt relief alternatives are. You can carry out some research on the net to discover what options you have or you could seek professional debt management advice (most companies will offer free advice at the beginning). Once you are aware of what alternatives you have, you’ll be more confident in handling 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 having the chance to control the interaction and telling 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 means possible for you to repay your debt since the quantity of debt you repay and how fast you repay it determines the commissions that debt collectors receive from creditors. The best way to handle correspondences with debt collectors is to realise your legal rights, when and how they can contact you, record all correspondences, and knowing what debt relief options you have. If you’re aware of these points, then it will greatly improve your communications with debt collectors and hopefully won’t add extra stress to your current financial situation. If you need any advice about what debt relief options you have, get in touch with the professionals at Bankruptcy Experts Darwin on 1300 795 575 or visit their website for additional information: www.bankruptcyexpertsdarwin.com.au.