A log of folks face financial troubles at some point 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 an enterprise. A debt collector can either be an employee of a company you owe money to, or they can be a third party working with a creditor. As you can imagine, it’s not an easy task to squeeze money out of people who have none. It would be fair to say that many people in debt are already stressed about their financial difficulties, and people calling them to remind them of this doesn’t always end smoothly. As a result, debt collectors have a lot of negative associations. There have been a lot of cases of people being harassed by debt collectors so it’s vital that people who are being contacted by debt collectors understand their rights and effective ways to deal with these kinds of communications.
Understand Your Legal Rights.
Being aware of what debt collectors can and can’t do is critical in having the capacity to effectively 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 apply to a debt collector’s behaviour towards you, but similarly your partner or spouse, family members, or anyone else connected with you. If you find yourself 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 equally essential to recognise how and when debt collectors can contact you. They can do this by phone, letters, emails, social networks or by visiting you personally. Each time you have communications with debt collectors, it’s crucial that you keep a document of such correspondence including the date and time of contact, the methods of contact (person, email, phone), the debt collector’s name and company name, and what was said during the interaction. It’s also relevant to note that debt collectors must respect your right to privacy and providing your financial info to another party without your authorisation is breaking the Law.
The Australian Consumer Law also stipulates that:
Debt collectors can only make up to three 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 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 communication 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 pleasant and give you a series of debt relief alternatives. Their task 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 recognise what your debt relief options are. You can carry out some research on the internet to see what options you have or you could seek professional debt management advice (most firms will offer free advice in the beginning). Once you are aware of what choices you have, you’ll be more comfortable in addressing 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 chance to govern the conversation and telling you of what options 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 means 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 lenders. The best way to deal with communications with debt collectors is to know your legal rights, when and how they can contact you, record all communications, and understanding what debt relief choices you have. If you’re aware of these points, then it will drastically improve your interactions with debt collectors and hopefully won’t add extra stress to your current financial condition. If you need any advice about what debt relief alternatives you have, talk to the professionals at Bankruptcy Experts Cairns on 1300 795 575 or visit their website for additional information: www.bankruptcyexpertscairns.com.au.