Lots of folks deal with financial hardship at some time in their lives, and most of these individuals are quite likely to be familiar with debt collectors. A debt collector is a person whose job is to collect debts on behalf of an organisation. 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 lender. As you can envision, it’s not a straightforward task to squeeze money out of people who don’t have any. It would be safe to say that most people in debt are already strained about their financial problems, and people contacting them to remind them of this doesn’t always end smoothly. Consequently, debt collectors have a lot of unfavourable connotations. There have been plenty of cases of people being harassed by debt collectors so it’s vital that people who are being contacted by debt collectors are aware of their rights and effective ways to deal with these types of interactions.
Understand Your Legal Rights.
Recognising what debt collectors can and can’t do is crucial in having the capacity 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 relate to a debt collector’s behaviour towards you, but additionally your partner or spouse, family members, or anyone else associated 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 also valuable to recognise how and when debt collectors can contact you. They can do this by telephone, letters, emails, social networking sites or by seeing you personally. Any time you have correspondences with debt collectors, it’s integral that you keep a document of such interaction including the time and date of contact, the means of contact (phone, email, person), 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 supplying your financial information 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 phone calls or letters each 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 replied to 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 communication can not be viewed 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 immediately.
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 task is to urge you to repay as much of your debt as possible, as fast as possible. So, the best thing to do is to have an understanding of what your debt relief options are. You can perform some research online to find what options you have or you could seek professional debt management advice (most businesses will offer free advice at first). Once you are aware of what choices you have, you’ll be more comfortable in managing 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 opportunity to govern the conversation and instructing you of what alternatives 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 difficult, and they’ll use any means possible for you to repay your debt since the amount of debt you repay and how quickly you repay it determines the commissions that debt collectors receive from creditors. The best way to deal with correspondences with debt collectors is to realise your legal rights, when and how they can contact you, document all interactions, and understanding what debt relief choices you have. If you’re aware of these points, then it will greatly improve your communications with debt collectors and hopefully won’t add even more stress to your current financial predicament. If you need any advice about what debt relief alternatives you have, speak with the professionals at Bankruptcy Experts Mildura on 1300 795 575 or visit their website for more information: http://www.bankruptcyexpertsmildura.com.au.