Many people struggle with financial hardship at some time in their lives, and most of these folks are probably familiar with debt collectors. A debt collector is an individual whose job is to collect debts on behalf of a business. A debt collector can either be an employee of a business you owe money to, or they could be a third party working with 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 burdened by their financial circumstances, and other people phoning them to remind them of this doesn’t always end smoothly. As a result, debt collectors have a lot of adverse associations. There have been a lot 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 how to handle these kinds of interactions.
Understand Your Legal Rights.
Being aware of what debt collectors can and can’t do is vital in having the ability 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 also 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 equally crucial to recognise how and when debt collectors can contact you. They can do this by telephone, mail, emails, social networking sites or by visiting you in person. Every time you have interactions with debt collectors, it’s essential that you keep a record of such communication including the time and date of contact, the source of contact (person, email, phone), the debt collector’s name and business name, and what was said during the interaction. It’s also important 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 specifies that:
Debt collectors can only make up to 3 telephone 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 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 correspondence can not be viewed 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 helpful and give you a range of debt relief solutions. Their job is to encourage you to repay as much of your debt as possible, as quickly as possible. So, the best thing to do is to recognise what your debt relief alternatives are. You can undertake some research on the internet to see what possibilities you have or you could seek professional debt management advice (most companies will offer free advice in the beginning). Once you understand what options you have, you’ll be more self-confident in handling 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 control the discussion and instructing you of what options 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 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 lenders. The best way to deal with communications with debt collectors is to recognise 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 drastically improve your interactions with debt collectors and hopefully won’t add more stress to your current financial condition. If you need any advice about what debt relief choices you have, reach out to the professionals at Bankruptcy Experts Geraldton on 1300 795 575 or visit their website for more information: www.bankruptcyexpertsgeraldton.com.au.