A lot of people struggle with financial distress at some time in their lives, and the majority of these individuals are very likely to be familiar with debt collectors. A debt collector is a person 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 can be a 3rd party servicing a lender. As you can imagine, 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 burdened by their financial hardship, and people calling them to remind them of this doesn’t always end smoothly. As a result, debt collectors have a lot of unfavourable associations. There have been a lot of cases of individuals being harassed by debt collectors so it’s imperative that people who are being contacted by debt collectors are aware of their rights and effective ways to manage these kinds of interactions.
Be aware of Your Legal Rights.
Understanding what debt collectors can and can’t do is crucial in having the capacity to properly 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 concern 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 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 likewise vital to understand how and when debt collectors can contact you. They can do this by phone, letters, emails, social networks or by seeing you face to face. Every time you have interactions with debt collectors, it’s essential that you keep a record of such correspondence including the date and time 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 essential to note that debt collectors must respect your right to privacy and supplying your financial information to another party without your approval is breaking the Law.
The Australian Consumer Law also states that:.
Debt collectors can only make up to 3 telephone 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 answered any of their past 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 hospitable and give you a variety of debt relief alternatives. 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 have an understanding of what your debt relief alternatives are. You can undertake some research online to find what alternatives you have or you could seek professional debt management advice (most companies will offer free advice to begin with). Once you recognise 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 know what your options are, it makes the job of the debt collector easier by having the opportunity to control the interaction and advising 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 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 creditors. The best way to handle communications with debt collectors is to recognise your legal rights, when and how they can contact you, document all interactions, and knowing 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 more stress to your current financial condition. If you need any advice about what debt relief opportunities you have, speak with the professionals at Bankruptcy Advice Perth on 1300 879 867 or visit their website for more information: www.bankruptcy-advice.com.au/perth.