Many people face financial troubles at some time in their lives, and most of these people 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 enterprise. A debt collector can either be an employee of a business you owe money to, or they could be a third party servicing a lender. As you can picture, it’s not an easy 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 burdened by their financial issues, and people calling them to remind them of this doesn’t always end happily. As a result, debt collectors have a lot of adverse associations. There have been numerous cases of people being harassed by debt collectors so it’s crucial that individuals who are being contacted by debt collectors understand their rights and effective ways to manage these types of communications.
Understand Your Legal Rights.
Recognising what debt collectors can and can’t do is critical in having the capacity to adequately 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 associated with 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 equally essential to recognise how and when debt collectors can contact you. They can do this by telephone, mail, emails, social networking sites or by visiting you personally. Any time you have interactions with debt collectors, it’s critical that you maintain a document of such correspondence including the date and time of contact, the means of contact (letter, phone, person), the debt collector’s name and business 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 information 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 phone calls or letters per 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 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 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 immediately1.
Know What Options You Have.
A debt collector’s job is not to be polite and give you a variety of debt relief solutions. Their task is to urge 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 options are. You can carry out some research on the net to see what possibilities you have or you could seek professional debt management advice (most businesses will offer free advice at the beginning). Once you are aware of what options you have, you’ll be more confident in addressing 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 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 very difficult, and they’ll use any way 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 creditors. The best way to deal with correspondences with debt collectors is to understand 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 certainly improve your correspondences with debt collectors and hopefully won’t add further stress to your current financial predicament. If you need any advice about what debt relief possibilities you have, contact the professionals at Gold Coast Bankruptcy Centre on 1300 795 575 or visit their website for more details: www.goldcoastbankruptcycentre.com.au.