A lot of people deal with financial challenges at some point in their lives, and the majority of these individuals are 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 can be a third party working with a creditor. As you can imagine, it’s not an easy job 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 condition, and people calling them to remind them of this doesn’t always end well. As a result, debt collectors have a lot of negative associations. There have been plenty of cases of individuals being harassed by debt collectors so it’s vital that individuals who are being contacted by debt collectors are aware of their rights and effective ways to manage these sorts of communications.
Learn about Your Legal Rights.
Understanding what debt collectors can and can’t do is extremely important in having the capacity to appropriately 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 additionally your partner or spouse, family members, or anyone else connected with 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 crucial to understand 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 vital that you keep a document of such correspondence including the time and date of contact, the means of contact (letter, phone, person), the debt collector’s name and business name, and what was said during the correspondence. It’s also important to note that debt collectors must respect your right to privacy and supplying your financial details to another party without your consent is breaking the Law.
The Australian Consumer Law also specifies that:
Debt collectors can only make up to 3 phone 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 answered 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 seen by anyone but you.
If you do agree to meet a debt collector personally, 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 series of debt relief solutions. 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 be aware of what your debt relief alternatives are. You can perform some research on the net to discover what options you have or you could seek professional debt management advice (most businesses will offer free advice at first). Once you recognise what alternatives you have, you’ll be more confident in addressing 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 simpler by being able to dictate 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 very difficult, and they’ll use any means 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 deal with communications with debt collectors is to recognise your legal rights, when and how they can contact you, document all correspondences, and understanding what debt relief choices you have. If you’re aware of these points, then it will substantially improve your interactions with debt collectors and hopefully won’t add additional stress to your current financial condition. If you need any advice about what debt relief alternatives you have, contact the professionals at Bankruptcy Experts Northern Rivers on 1300 795 575 or visit their website for additional information: http://www.bankruptcyexpertsnorthernrivers.com.au.