A lot of people struggle with financial challenges at some time in their lives, and the majority of these folks are likely to be familiar with debt collectors. A debt collector is an individual whose job is to collect debts on behalf of a firm. A debt collector can either be an employee of a business you owe money to, or they can be a 3rd party working with a lender. As you can picture, it’s not a straightforward task to squeeze money out of people who simply don’t have any. Most people in debt are already stressed about their financial circumstances, and 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 plenty of cases of individuals being harassed by debt collectors so it’s crucial that people who are being contacted by debt collectors are aware of their rights and the best ways to deal with these kinds of communications.
Be aware of Your Legal Rights
Recognising what debt collectors can and can’t do is essential in having the ability to adequately 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 relate 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 likewise vital to be aware of how and when debt collectors can contact you. They can do this by telephone, mail, emails, social networking sites or by visiting you face to face. Each time you have interactions with debt collectors, it’s critical that you keep a document of such correspondence including the date and time of contact, the means of contact (person, email, phone), the debt collector’s name and business name, and what was said during the correspondence. It’s also critical to note that debt collectors must respect your right to privacy and supplying your financial information to another party without your permission 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 replied to 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 warm and friendly and give you a variety of debt relief alternatives. Their job is to coax you to repay as much of your debt as possible, as quickly as possible. So, the best thing to do is to be aware of what your debt relief alternatives are. You can conduct some research online to find what alternatives you have or you could seek professional debt management advice (most firms will offer free advice at first). Once you recognise what choices you have, you’ll be more self-confident 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 easier by having the chance to dictate the discussion 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 methods 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 handle interactions with debt collectors is to have an understanding of your legal rights, when and how they can contact you, document all communications, and understanding what debt relief choices you have. If you’re aware of these points, then it will certainly improve your correspondences with debt collectors and hopefully won’t add additional stress to your current financial predicament. If you need any advice about what debt relief options you have, reach out to the professionals at Bankruptcy Experts Gympie on 1300 795 575 or visit their website for more information: Bankruptcy Gympie