Lots of people wrestle with financial problems at some point in their lives, and the majority of these folks are quite likely to be familiar with debt collectors. A debt collector is an individual whose job is to collect debts on behalf of an enterprise. A debt collector can either be an employee of a company you owe money to, or they could be a 3rd party working for a creditor. As you can envision, it’s not a straightforward task to squeeze money out of people who have none. It would be safe to say that most people in debt are already pressured about their financial issues, and other people contacting them to remind them of this doesn’t always end well. Consequently, debt collectors have a lot of negative connotations. There have been countless cases of individuals being harassed by debt collectors so it’s imperative that individuals who are being contacted by debt collectors have knowledge of their rights and effective ways to handle these kinds of interactions.
Be aware of Your Legal Rights.
Recognising what debt collectors can and can’t do is extremely important in being able to properly manage any interactions 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 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 additionally important to recognise how and when debt collectors can contact you. They can do this by phone, mail, emails, social media sites or by seeing you face to face. Whenever you have correspondences with debt collectors, it’s integral that you maintain a document of such communication including the date and time of contact, the methods of contact (phone, email, person), the debt collector’s name and company name, and what was said during the correspondence. It’s also relevant to note that debt collectors must respect your right to privacy and providing your financial details to another party without your permission 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 answered 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 messages can not be seen by anyone but you.
If you do agree to meet a debt collector face to face, any threats of assault or violence should be reported to the police immediately.
Know What Options You Have.
A debt collector’s job is not to be warm and friendly and give you a variety of debt relief options. Their job is to persuade you to repay as much of your debt as possible, as quickly as possible. So, the best thing to do is to understand what your debt relief alternatives are. You can perform some research online to search for what options you have or you could seek professional debt management advice (most companies will offer free advice initially). Once you understand what options 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 much simpler by having the ability to govern the interaction and instructing you of what choices you have, whether they’re true or not.
It’s always a complicated 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 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 have an understanding of your legal rights, when and how they can contact you, document all interactions, and understanding what debt relief options you have. If you’re aware of these points, then it will dramatically improve your communications with debt collectors and hopefully won’t add further stress to your current financial situation. If you need any advice about what debt relief choices you have, speak to the professionals at Bankruptcy Experts Wyong on 1300 795 575 or visit their website for more information: http://www.bankruptcyexpertswyong.com.au.