Lots of individuals deal with financial challenges at some point in their lives, and the majority 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 a firm. A debt collector can either be an employee of an organisation you owe money to, or they can be a third party working for a creditor. As you can picture, it’s not a straightforward job 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 difficulties, and people phoning them to remind them of this doesn’t always end happily. As a result, debt collectors have a lot of unfavourable connotations. There have been a large number of cases of people being harassed by debt collectors so it’s important 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.
Being aware of 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 concern 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 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 also vital to understand how and when debt collectors can contact you. They can do this by telephone, letters, emails, social networks or by visiting you personally. Every time you have communications with debt collectors, it’s pivotal that you maintain a record of such communication including the date and time of contact, the source of contact (letter, 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 details to another party without your approval is breaking the Law.
The Australian Consumer Law also specifies that:
Debt collectors can only make up to 3 telephone calls or letters each 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 addressed any of their former 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 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 courteous and give you a series of debt relief alternatives. Their task is to coax 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 alternatives are. You can conduct some research on the web to see what possibilities you have or you could seek professional debt management advice (most businesses will offer free advice to begin with). Once you recognise what options you have, you’ll be more confident in resolving 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 much simpler by having the ability to control the discussion and telling you of what options 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 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 deal with correspondences with debt collectors is to know your legal rights, when and how they can contact you, document all interactions, and knowing what debt relief alternatives you have. If you’re aware of these points, then it will dramatically improve your interactions with debt collectors and hopefully won’t add further stress to your current financial condition. If you need any advice about what debt relief alternatives you have, contact the professionals at Bankruptcy Experts Gosford on 1300 795 575 or visit their website for more information: http://www.bankruptcyexpertsgosford.com.au.