Lots of individuals struggle with financial difficulties at some point in their lives, and the majority of these folks are very likely to be familiar with debt collectors. A debt collector is an individual whose job is to collect debts on behalf of a firm. A debt collector can either be an employee of a company you owe money to, or they could be a third party employed by a lender. As you can picture, it’s not a simple task 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 stressed about their financial problems, and other people calling them to remind them of this doesn’t always end happily. Consequently, debt collectors have a lot of unfavourable connotations. There have been plenty of cases of individuals being harassed by debt collectors so it’s imperative that individuals who are being contacted by debt collectors are aware of their rights and the best ways to deal with these kinds of interactions.
Be aware of Your Legal Rights.
Understanding what debt collectors can and can’t do is critical in being able to suitably 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 involve a debt collector’s behaviour towards you, but also 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 equally valuable to understand how and when debt collectors can contact you. They can do this by telephone, letters, emails, social media or by seeing you in person. Every time you have correspondences with debt collectors, it’s crucial that you maintain a document of such communication including the time and date of contact, the means of contact (letter, email, phone), the debt collector’s name and company name, and what was said during the correspondence. It’s also significant to note that debt collectors must respect your right to privacy and providing your financial details 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 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 answered any of their previous 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 courteous and give you a range of debt relief alternatives. Their task is to encourage 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 options are. You can perform some research on the internet to see what options you have or you could seek professional debt management advice (most companies will offer free advice initially). Once you recognise what alternatives you have, you’ll be more comfortable in managing 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 having the opportunity to dictate the discussion and informing you of what choices 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 methods possible for you to repay your debt since the quantity of debt you repay and how quickly you repay it determines the commissions that debt collectors receive from creditors. The best way to manage interactions with debt collectors is to realise 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 significantly improve your correspondences with debt collectors and hopefully won’t add even more 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 Brisbane on 1300 795 575 or visit their website for more information: http://www.bankruptcyexpertsbrisbane.com.au.