Lots of people wrestle with financial troubles at some time in their lives, and most of these individuals are likely to be familiar with debt collectors. A debt collector is an individual whose job is to collect debts on behalf of a business. A debt collector can either be an employee of a firm you owe money to, or they could be a 3rd party working for a creditor. As you can envision, it’s not a straightforward task to squeeze money out of people who don’t have any. It would be fair to say that many people in debt are already stressed about their financial condition, and other people calling them to remind them of this doesn’t always end happily. Consequently, debt collectors have a lot of unfavourable associations. There have been many cases of individuals being harassed by debt collectors so it’s critical that people who are being contacted by debt collectors understand their rights and effective ways to manage these types of communications.
Learn about Your Legal Rights.
Being aware of what debt collectors can and can’t do is essential in having the capacity to properly manage any correspondences 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 also your partner or spouse, family members, or anyone else connected with 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 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 visiting you face to face. Every time you have interactions with debt collectors, it’s crucial that you maintain a record of such communication including the date and time of contact, the methods of contact (email, phone, person), the debt collector’s name and company name, and what was said during the correspondence. It’s also vital 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 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 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 messages 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 warm and give you a series of debt relief options. Their task is to encourage you to repay as much of your debt as possible, as fast as possible. So, the best thing to do is to understand what your debt relief alternatives are. You can carry out some research on the internet to discover what alternatives you have or you could seek professional debt management advice (most businesses will offer free advice to begin with). Once you recognise what choices you have, you’ll be more comfortable in dealing with 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 opportunity to dictate the discussion and advising you of what options 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 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 communications with debt collectors is to understand your legal rights, when and how they can contact you, record all correspondences, and understanding what debt relief possibilities you have. If you’re aware of these points, then it will drastically 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, contact the professionals at Bankruptcy Experts Port Stephens on 1300 795 575 or visit their website for more details: http://www.bankruptcyexpertsportstephens.com.au.