Lots of individuals wrestle with financial problems at some point in their lives, and most of these individuals are probably 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 a business you owe money to, or they could be a third party servicing a lender. As you can picture, it’s not a simple task to squeeze money out of people who simply don’t have any. Most people in debt are already pressured about their financial challenges, and other people phoning them to remind them of this doesn’t always end well. Consequently, debt collectors have a lot of unfavourable connotations. There have been lots of cases of people being harassed by debt collectors so it’s essential that people who are being contacted by debt collectors have knowledge of their rights and how to deal with these sorts of communications.
Be aware of Your Legal Rights.
Understanding what debt collectors can and can’t do is very important in being able 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 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 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 understand how and when debt collectors can contact you. They can do this by phone, mail, emails, social networking sites or by seeing you face to face. Each time you have correspondences with debt collectors, it’s integral that you maintain a record of such communication including the time and date of contact, the source of contact (email, phone, person), the debt collector’s name and business name, and what was said during the correspondence. It’s also valuable to note that debt collectors must respect your right to privacy and supplying your financial details 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 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 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 messages can not be seen by anyone but you.
If you do agree to meet a debt collector face to face, 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 helpful and give you a series of debt relief alternatives. Their job 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 be aware of what your debt relief alternatives are. You can carry out some research on the web to uncover what alternatives you have or you could seek professional debt management advice (most companies will offer free advice to begin with). Once you recognise what choices you have, you’ll be more comfortable in handling 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 being able to control the discussion and informing you of what choices you have, whether they’re true or not.
It’s always a challenging 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 amount of debt you repay and how quickly you repay it determines the commissions that debt collectors receive from creditors. The best way to handle correspondences with debt collectors is to have an understanding of 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 considerably improve your interactions with debt collectors and hopefully won’t add further stress to your current financial predicament. If you need any advice about what debt relief opportunities you have, get in touch with the professionals at Bankruptcy Experts Dubbo on 1300 795 575 or visit their website for more details: http://www.bankruptcyexpertsdubbo.com.au.