A lot of people face financial troubles at some time in their lives, and the majority of these folks are likely to be familiar with debt collectors. A debt collector is an individual whose job is to collect debts on behalf of a company. A debt collector can either be an employee of a business you owe money to, or they can be a 3rd party servicing a creditor. As you can envision, it’s not a simple task to squeeze money out of people who don’t have any. Most people in debt are already stressed about their financial issues, and other people phoning them to remind them of this doesn’t always end happily. As a result, debt collectors have a lot of negative connotations. There have been lots of cases of people 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 kinds of interactions.
Learn about Your Legal Rights.
Recognising what debt collectors can and can’t do is critical in being able to appropriately 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 related to 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 likewise crucial to understand how and when debt collectors can contact you. They can do this by telephone, mail, emails, social media or by seeing you personally. Each time you have communications with debt collectors, it’s essential that you maintain a record of such communication including the date and time of contact, the source of contact (letter, email, phone), the debt collector’s name and business name, and what was said during the interaction. It’s also valuable to note that debt collectors must respect your right to privacy and providing your financial info to another party without your approval is breaking the Law.
The Australian Consumer Law also stipulates that:
Debt collectors can only make up to three phone calls or letters per 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 responded to 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 hospitable and give you a range of debt relief options. Their task is to persuade you to repay as much of your debt as possible, as fast as possible. So, the best thing to do is to understand what your debt relief options are. You can carry out some research on the internet to discover what alternatives you have or you could seek professional debt management advice (most firms will offer free advice at first). Once you are aware of what alternatives you have, you’ll be more self-confident in dealing with 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 easier by having the chance to control the discussion and instructing you of what choices you have, whether they’re true or not.
It’s always a tough situation when you come into contact with debt collectors. Their job is difficult, and they’ll use any methods possible for you to repay your debt since the amount of debt you repay and how fast you repay it determines the commissions that debt collectors receive from creditors. The best way to deal with interactions with debt collectors is to know your legal rights, when and how they can contact you, document all interactions, and knowing what debt relief options you have. If you’re aware of these points, then it will certainly improve your communications with debt collectors and hopefully won’t add more stress to your current financial situation. If you need any advice about what debt relief alternatives you have, contact the professionals at Bankruptcy Experts Port Macquarie on 1300 795 575 or visit their website for more details: http://www.bankruptcyexpertsportmacquarie.com.au.