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- July 27, 2017
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A lot of people deal with financial challenges at some point in their lives, and most of these people are quite likely to be familiar with debt collectors. A debt collector is a person whose job is to collect debts on behalf of an organisation. A debt collector can either be an employee of a company you owe money to, or they could be a third party employed by a creditor. As you can picture, it’s not an easy task to squeeze money out of people who don’t have any. Most people in debt are already strained about their financial situation, and people calling them to remind them of this doesn’t always end well. Consequently, debt collectors have a lot of negative connotations. There have been countless cases of people being harassed by debt collectors so it’s critical that individuals who are being contacted by debt collectors understand their rights and effective ways to manage these types of communications.
Understand Your Legal Rights.
Recognising what debt collectors can and can’t do is extremely important in having the capacity to appropriately 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 apply to a debt collector’s behaviour towards you, but similarly 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 equally important to understand how and when debt collectors can contact you. They can do this by telephone, letters, emails, social media sites or by seeing you personally. Any time you have correspondences with debt collectors, it’s important that you keep a record of such interaction including the date and time of contact, the methods 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 info to another party without your permission is breaking the Law.
The Australian Consumer Law also states that:
Debt collectors can only make up to 3 telephone 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 answered 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 correspondence 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 polite and give you a range of debt relief options. 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 perform some research online to find what alternatives you have or you could seek professional debt management advice (most companies will offer free advice in the beginning). Once you recognise what choices you have, you’ll be more 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 much easier by having the chance to control the conversation and telling you of what alternatives you have, whether they’re true or not.
It’s always a complicated 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 quickly you repay it determines the commissions that debt collectors receive from creditors. The best way to manage interactions with debt collectors is to understand your legal rights, when and how they can contact you, document all communications, and knowing what debt relief possibilities you have. If you’re aware of these points, then it will significantly 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 choices you have, contact the professionals at Bankruptcy Experts Gladstone on 1300 795 575 or visit their website for additional information: http://www.bankruptcyexpertsgladstone.com.au.