Lots of folks face financial hardship at some time 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 firm you owe money to, or they can be a third party servicing a creditor. As you can imagine, 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 stressed about their financial condition, and other people contacting them to remind them of this doesn’t always end smoothly. Consequently, debt collectors have a lot of negative associations. There have been countless cases of individuals being harassed by debt collectors so it’s essential that individuals who are being contacted by debt collectors are aware of their rights and the best ways to handle these types of interactions.
Understand Your Legal Rights.
Understanding what debt collectors can and can’t do is vital 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 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 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 additionally valuable to be aware of how and when debt collectors can contact you. They can do this by telephone, mail, emails, social networks or by seeing you personally. Whenever you have correspondences with debt collectors, it’s important that you maintain a document of such correspondence including the date and time of contact, the means of contact (email, phone, person), the debt collector’s name and company name, and what was said during the interaction. It’s also crucial to note that debt collectors must respect your right to privacy and supplying your financial information to another party without your authorisation is breaking the Law.
The Australian Consumer Law also states that:
Debt collectors can only make up to three telephone 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 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 helpful and give you a variety of debt relief options. Their task is to persuade 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 carry out some research on the web to uncover what options you have or you could seek professional debt management advice (most businesses will offer free advice to begin with). Once you are aware of what choices you have, you’ll be more self-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 easier by having the opportunity to dictate the discussion and informing you of what alternatives 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 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, record all interactions, and knowing what debt relief options you have. If you’re aware of these points, then it will dramatically improve your correspondences with debt collectors and hopefully won’t add extra stress to your current financial situation. If you need any advice about what debt relief opportunities you have, talk with the professionals at Bankruptcy Experts Frankston on 1300 795 575 or visit their website for additional information: www.bankruptcyexpertsfrankston.com.au.